Education

South proposes hazard pay stipends for teachers, staff

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NEW MARKET — South Montgomery Community School Corp. is proposing giving teachers and other staff members hazard pay stipends for working through the pandemic.

“We know that our teachers, our nurses, our administrators and our support staff — in my view — have risen to heroic levels of support for our students and families,” superintendent Dr. Shawn Greiner told school board members Monday.

The district is proposing a $1,500 stipend for each certified teacher, administrator and nurse “for the additional planning and time required due to COVID restrictions.” Non-certified staff members including teacher aides would receive a $600 stipend.

Greiner said the district plans to discuss the stipends with the teachers’ union this week. Most of the funding would come from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, which is part of the CARES Act. The district is also tapping into its education fund.

South has received more than $1 million in ESSER funds so far. The majority of the funds will be spent on hiring remediation teachers, especially for the younger grades. A portion of the money will also be used for student devices.

In other business, Greiner announced changes to career and technical education classes offered through the West Central co-op with Crawfordsville, North Montgomery, South Montgomery and Western Boone schools.

The welding program — which has seen overwhelming demand from students, Greiner said — will be held at both North Montgomery and Southmont next school year due to increased student enrollment in the program.  Southmont’s welding lab has hosted classes for Ivy Tech Community College.

The advanced manufacturing program, which Greiner said has received less interest, is being paused for next year to focus on a feeder program. The class will be offered again in the 2022-23 school year.

South schools will begin I-LEARN testing next week, despite concerns from teachers.

“It’s somewhat of a controversial topic because teachers would prefer to have the time to catch students up as opposed to testing them. But we are still required this year at the federal level to do testing, so we will do it,” said Anna Roth, director of curriculum, instruction and teacher development.

Educators from other Indiana school districts have asked the state to cancel the testing due to the pandemic. The state says virtual learners can’t opt-out and must take the test in-person.

“If they do not, that counts against our schools,” Roth said. “So, families making choices in the best interest of their students could indeed hurt our schools through the I-LEARN testing process, and I would just ask that you keep our families and our students and teachers in mind.”

Roth added that it appeared schools would be held harmless from low scores this year. I-LEARN replaced the ISTEP exam for students in grades 3 through 8.

In other business, the board:

• Approved a request from parent organizers to use the high school fieldhouse and gym to host After Prom activities.

• Renewed the food services contract with Chartwells.

• Approved the resignation of Katie Powell, sixth grade teacher, effective at the end of the school year.

• Approved the hiring of Margaret Savage, New Market speech language pathologist, and Mercedes McCormick, junior/senior high nurse, effective next school year.

• Appointed Machelle Helms to the Crawfordsville District Public Library board for a three year term ending in June 2024.

This story has been updated to clarify that welding classes will be held at both Southmont and North Montgomery next school year due to increased student enrollment in the program and to correct a reporting error on the usage of ESSER funds.

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