The Griffith Public School District and the Griffith Federation of Teachers Headed to Mediation over Contract Dispute
Tuesday, December, 18, 2018
The Griffith Federation of Teachers, the union representing educators in the district, started mediation with public schools concerning their dispute over a request for an increase in wages. The district has offered the teachers a 1 percent stipend. According to the attorney for the teachers’ union, this offer was made because the district’s fund has dried up due to overspending.
According the attorney, the fund is “hundreds of thousands of dollars in the red.” This is in spite of having money to offer salary increases last year for teachers. Allegedly, no reason has been given for why the district is that much in debt and Superintended Michele Riise refused to comment due to “pending contract negotiations.”
The teachers’ union believes the money problem is due to recent renovations of the district’s central office, as well as tech upgrades and several new positions within the district. Nobody is sure yet if these expenses were funded by the school’s general fund or by other means.
Riise has been superintendent since 2017 after her predecessor retired. According to her contract, she earns an annual salary of $135,000, which is significantly more than who she replaced. It is also quite a bit more than other administrators are in the area.
School teachers in the district start at $38,500 and can eventually earn $72,500 depending on how long they work in the district, as well as a point system that takes into account the education they have received. This is among the lowest in the region for teachers, despite the raise the district managed to give teachers last year.
The two groups will meet for mediation and determine where to go from here.