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'We are so grateful': Muncie Community School teachers react to historic raise

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Posted at 7:51 PM, Apr 27, 2022

MUNCIE — The Muncie Community Schools Board of Trustees approvedits largest pay raise in school history on Tuesday.

"This raise just makes us take a breath, ya know, and know things at home financially are going to be taken care of a little bit better and it's kind of worth the hard," said Kelly Agnew, a fourth grade teacher.

Agnew will tell you life as a teacher is challenging. She's been teaching math at West View Elementary for four years.

"I have 30 kids in my classroom this year. That's a lot, and they are like from first grade ability to 7th or 8th grade ability," she said. "[I'm also] trying to manage that every day during the pandemic."

She says COVID-19 brought extra stress and many teachers questioned if their low salary was worth it.

Teachers were paid $35,000 to start. Now, new teachers will receive $48,000.

Those who have been in the classroom for at least 20 years will get $60,000.

The board approved a total of $2.4 million in pay raises; that will make them one of the top-paying school districts in the state.

"This is huge. I know there are lots of teachers that were contemplating 'is teaching the right thing for me?' It's hard," said Agnew.

Dave Heeter with the MCS Board of Trustees says Muncie Community Schools has faced several challenges throughout the years.

"We hit rock bottom 4 or 5 years ago," said Heeter.

The state took over after noting the district was in distress andin 2018, Ball State University partnered with Muncie Community Schools.

After four years of hard work, enrollment is growing and teacher retention is more than 80%.

"We continue every year to try and make a difference, but this is the first time where we have seen an unprecedented amount coming from the state through our general assembly and that has allowed us to be able to offer some incredible raises," said MCS Director of Public Education and CEO Lee Ann Kwiatkowski.

Teachers also saw a pay raise in in 2021. The board says the pay raises didn't come easy but hopes it will provide comfort to hardworking teachers.

"Thank you for being there every day for those students; you know you make a difference. You know you don't win every day, but you come back every day with intent to make kids' lives better and you do that," said Heeter.

"We feel like we have been seen heard and known by the board. I can't thank them enough. This means more to teachers than people know," said Agnew. "We are just so grateful for them taking this big step because it's a substantial raise. I think all of us are surprised and thankful."

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