Editor's Note: This story is part of The Partnership Project, a series of content written in an effort by The Daily News to follow the formal collaboration of Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools. Read more in this series here.
Correction: An earlier version of this article implied Muncie Community Schools teachers didn't receive raises in the past two years. It has been corrected to reflect the fact that staff received raises in 2020 and 2021.
Due to budget issues, Muncie Community Schools (MCS) teachers were working from 2012-2019 without any pay raise. Director of Public Education and CEO of MCS Lee Ann Kwiatkowski said MCS gave all of its teachers raises in 2020, and hopes to increase the starting salary for new teachers through its partnership with Ball State.
Kwiatkowski, who's worked in MCS since 2019, said MCS’ innovation and strategic plans address issues of teacher compensation. The school district completed these plans in summer 2020 and shared them with the Indiana General Assembly.
Kwiatkowski emphasized the importance of the two plans that are in place to try to give teachers better annual pay and more pay raises. She said she plans to have conversations with teachers, students and other educators to gain feedback about the innovation plan.
Beginning in 2019, Kwiatkowski said, Ball State’s Board of Trustees gave all teachers a $700 stipend and all support staff a $500 stipend.
“This was the first way the board and the administration took time to recognize our staff by saying, ‘We appreciate you, we support you and we are going to make sure that we are compensating you,’” Kwiatkowski said.
Marnell Bishop, Muncie Central High School teacher, said money was not her motivation to start teaching in the late 1990s.
“I got into it because I love teaching and I love my students, and my pay is not just monetary because I also knew way before I ever started … I wanted hours to be flexible and be able to have time to spend with my kids as they grew up,” Bishop said. “I wanted to teach where I lived, [and] I wanted to know part of my paycheck is being a part of the community.”
Kwiatkowski said Bishop and many other MCS teachers have worked hard for years, and she is glad the school district was able to reward them with pay raises.
“I do recognize how hard our teachers and staff work,” Kwiatkowski said. “This year, with the pandemic and Muncie Community Schools teachers being in session since August … they work extremely hard, and it’s nice to be able to reward somebody for their good work.”