On Thursday, the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners approved a two-year contract that includes an average wage increase of 7.4% for school service and support workers who are members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Local 661.
The new agreement will benefit school service and support workers, such as classroom paraprofessionals, staff custodians, and food service employees who are integral to the school district’s daily operations and success. On average, employees will see a $2,000 annual wage increase and will receive back pay as of July 1, 2023.
“There are so many unsung heroes at IPS who make our schools run seamlessly every day. When our students receive one-on-one learning support, enter a warm classroom, or enjoy a healthy meal in the cafeteria, it’s because of our dedicated support staff,” said Christina Aden Hamer, the district’s chief human resources officer. “IPS is proud to raise salaries in recognition of all the ways our staff show up every day to make sure our students have everything they need.”
Aden Hamer noted that the new contract also adds additional paid time off, floating holidays, and summer work schedule accommodations.
“The contract marks a significant investment in the district’s fantastic employees who deserve competitive compensation for their skills,” Aden Hamer said. “This contract not only demonstrates the district’s commitment to equitable and fair compensation but also affirms that Indianapolis Public Schools are a great place to work. IPS is committed to attracting and retaining talented individuals.”
“The truth of the matter and reality is the new starting wage of $16.01 – coupled with the step increases – will be life-altering,” said Phyllis Bailey, president of AFSCME Local 661. “The opportunities to showcase our scholarship through a clearer path for substitute licensure and affordable higher education will be worth the wait.”
Bailey noted that AFSCME Local 661 and its members sincerely appreciated the IPS Bargaining Team for their attention, collaboration, and inspiration as the negotiations were held with mutual respect and dignity. She also recognized Ronald Swann, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, for his invaluable mentorship.
Both Bailey and Aden Hamer praised the IPS and AFSCME Local 661 bargaining teams, touting the agreement as a symbol of their strong and collaborative partnership.
“During bargaining, both sides demonstrated a shared vision for the district’s future under the banner of Rebuilding Stronger,” said Aden Hamer. “The relationship between IPS and AFSCME Local 661 reflects a commitment to fostering an environment where employees are empowered to contribute their best to the students and the community they serve, ultimately laying the groundwork for a stronger and more resilient educational system.”
Highlights of the new contract include:
Substantial increase of lowest hourly wage rate from $11.01 to $16.01.
Potential for salary bumps (“loyalty increases”) for staff who reach three or 10 fiscal years of IPS employment during the agreement term.
Eliminates college credit requirement for substitute pay, enabling all paraprofessionals with substitute licenses, or who are in the process of obtaining them, to serve as substitutes and earn substitute pay premiums.
Accelerates earnings of the fourth week of vacation from 15 fiscal years of employment to 10.
Adds floating holidays for 10-month and 12-month staff to accommodate religious observances not captured in the IPS calendar.
Enables employees to split bereavement time by reserving up to three of the five days to be taken later in the 12 months following death, and expands bereavement leave for aunts/uncles/nieces/nephews from one to three total days.
Retirement Pay and Benefits
Increases IPS-portion of 403(b) match from 0.5% to 3%.
Increases daily rate payout for accrued sick time at retirement from $35 to $45.
Employee health insurance premiums remain unchanged at 2022-23 levels for 2023-24.
The new agreement remains in effect until June 30, 2025.