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HCCSC discusses collective bargaining

The Huntington County Community School Corporation (HCCSC) Board of Trustees held a public hearing during their regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 13, to introduce collective bargaining with the Huntington County Teachers Association (HCTA) for this school year.

Collective bargaining takes place between HCCSC and HCTA every year in order to negotiate teachers’ wages. Once the contract is settled between the two groups, it is sent to the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (IEERB) who has to approve it by November.

Several members of the HCTA attended the school board meeting to discuss what could and could not be bargained for. They also said some things could be discussed between HCCSC and HCTA, but not put in the contract.

“HCTA is actually quite excited to go into bargaining. We are looking forward to it,” HCTA member and Lincoln Elementary School teacher Stacia McElhaney said. “It is true that—over the last few years—HCCSC has worked very well with us in improving the communication and further supporting teachers.

Because of that, we know that both sides are especially committed to continuing that trend with strengthening relations and working to come up with a compromise that will work for both sides in a manner that will foster continued excellence and success for students and our teachers.”

McElhaney continued, “It is our hope that we continue to progress forward and continue to support our teachers for the betterment of our schools, so that the next generation can prosper in the same ways we have.”

In unrelated business, several HCCSC employees gave presentations at the meeting. The first was Data Integration Specialist Nick Vickrey, who presented data he collected comparing exam scores of HCCSC students to state averages for this last school year.

“We, HCCSC, are below state average almost across the board,” Vickrey said. “So that is the reality.”

He also shared more in-depth analysis, comparing individual HCCSC schools to others like them in terms of enrollment, location of school and other such criteria. This analysis focused on the areas of student achievement and student growth. By doing so, the data showed several schools in the district that were above average, while others fell below state average in both categories.

“If this is the most fair comparison we have, I hope this can be a spring board. I hope this is motivation for us,” Vickrey said.

After Vickrey’s presentation, Director of Curriculum Jay Peters spoke about the “next steps” the district could take in order to improve going forward.

The next presentation was done by Director of Special Education Beth Husband who spoke on what special education looks like for the HCCSC district.

Husband reported that HCCSC has 1,042 students who receive special education services from ages 3 to 22, which translates to 20.7 percent of the entire school population. Over the last several years, the number of students needing special education has risen.

Husband said there could be many reasons for this. One reason she sees is that new students moving into the district may not have experience with “early intervention services” or might come to school with mental health issues or family situations. Those children are the ones that might need “extra support.”

“In the past, our extra support was getting them into special education,” Husband said.

Now, Husband believes they are in a “vicious cycle” because of the lack of resources to help students who need it. So, in order to help the students, they are put in Title I or special education.

“I think that’s the reason our numbers continue to increase,” Husband said.

In other business:
• The school board approved a Stadium Entrance Sponsorship and Advertising Agreement with First Federal Savings Bank in the amount of $35,000 distributed to HCCSC over five years. The agreement will continue for 10 years.

• Daugherty introduced the 2021-22 HCCSC/IMPACT Institute Memorandum of Understanding. This agreement allows IMPACT Institute to use a classroom for adult students after school hours and assists adults in acquiring their GED. The board approved the memorandum.