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Protesters point to problems with pay at Pike Township Schools

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In a sea of red, chants for change came from outside the Pike Township’s Administrative Services Center on Thursday night.

Teachers and bus drivers called for higher compensation ahead of a school board meeting. It’s a problem Chris Ludy, a high school teacher and president of the Pike Classroom Teachers Association, says has gone on too long. He says it’s also the reason teachers are leaving the district.

“A beginning teacher makes a little bit more than $44,000, and I’m not going to get this number exactly right, but a teacher with five years of experience makes about $46,000. So, if you’re here for five years, you just aren’t getting those pay raises,” Ludy said.

However, he said, teachers aren’t the only Pike employees getting shortchanged. At the end of September, students were forced to stay home after what’s been called a bus driver walkout.

“It says something to the fact that there was just an issue, and we had to have e-learning and remote learning for two days, and, two, three weeks later, yes, the teachers are here,” Ludy said.

Teacher Mike Bankert, who is treasurer of the Pike Classroom Teachers Association and the compensation committee chairperson for the district, follows the money. Bankert said he’s seen a lot of district administration raises that are very high.

“We have a very high starting salary. The problem is what’s happening after that. A Year 10 teacher makes $1.90 more than a brand-new teacher. We have not adjusted our salaries accordingly,” Bankert said.

If that doesn’t change, Bankert fears, more people will make the choice to work elsewhere.

“We’re upset. We’re getting about a third to 40% of what other schools are getting every year. We’re paying attention, and it’s time that it stops,” Bankert said.

The district issued a statement about the protest.

“MSD Pike Township and the PCTA (Pike Classroom Teachers Association) are currently in the process of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. We will continue to focus our priority in investing in teachers to ensure that our district remains a top provider of high quality education in this state. “