Hispanos Unidos offers fun and inclusive atmosphere

By: Lydia Braswell

Bella Haraguchi’s dance skills are paying off.

The president of Hispanos Unidos taught a Latinx hip-hop dance class on Nov. 21 that represented the culture of the Purdue Fort Wayne club well.

“Dancing is what brings families together,” says the PFW sophomore, explaining that Hispanos Unidos is an inclusive campus club open to all PFW students– not limited to students of Hispanic heritage.

The environment of the fitness studio transpired that sentiment during the dance. Some who attended had a background in dance, and others– like me– had very little prior experience. All six of the dancers continually encouraged each other to keep going and focus on having fun.

Daddy Yankee’s song “Que Tire Pa Lante” played repeatedly from a loudspeaker as we practiced the routine for a total of two hours– including several much-needed breaks for water and fruit snacks. We had an ever-changing audience as students continually peeked their heads in to see what we were up to, and some even stayed to learn a section of the dance.

Libni Sedano attended the hip-hop class and loves to dance in her spare time. Rather than dancing professionally, Sedano learned from her family, as she says dancing is a key tradition for Hispanic families.

The PFW sophomore is majoring in finance and Spanish, and has been part of Hispanos Unidos for two semesters. She said she joined because she likes to be part of people sharing her cultural background.

Haraguchi says that, at parties, dancing isn’t really about getting a work out. The purpose is to feel connected with friends and family, especially in Hispanic culture – whether it’s dancing with a partner, a friend, or a group.

“You eat and then burn [the calories] right off!” Sedano says. “If you get hungry again, there’s more food!”

The Latinx teacher has a diverse background in dance. Starting for fun in elementary school, she began learning elite dance in a studio in middle school and continued through high school. She has competed in a variety of competitions, including ballet, jazz, contemporary, lyrical and hip-hop.

The 20-year-old has stopped dancing professionally but still does hip-hop dances, and her skills were evident as she taught the Latinx class with ease.

“I still love dancing a lot,” says Haraguchi. She also had a chance to teach in September– another Latinx hip-hop combo that was a fundraiser for Hispanos Unidos. The club president and chemistry major stepped up as a leader after the scheduled teacher of the class never showed up.

Teaching hip-hop is not the first time Haraguchi showed her leadership skills. When the soon-to-be-freshman was touring PFW in 2018, she found out that Hispanos Unidos would no longer be a club unless someone volunteered to be president and get students involved.

Haraguchi took on the role and has since been a leader for her club and for her campus.

Haraguchi volunteered to teach on Nov. 21, planning the event herself following the success of the last class. She hopes that those who attended learned more about dancing.

“Dancing doesn’t require much experience or technique,” says Haraguchi. “It’s about feeling the music and having fun with others.”

After fine-tuning our dance moves, we recorded the routine and it is posted on the Instagram page for Hispanos Unidos. None of us were required to be featured in the video, but after a little extra self-esteem boost for the more shy dancers in our group, all six who learned the routine agreed to be recorded. Once again, an encouraging atmosphere was fostered with the help of the Hispanos Unidos club members, and the attitude was contagious.

 

Carolina Baltazar has personally experienced the inclusive nature of the club.

Baltazar attended a private school for most of her education. Born in America and growing up in a family with Mexican heritage, Baltazar’s family speaks Spanish at home. She thought that going to a public school in third and fourth grade would allow her to feel more included after being in a private school with very little diversity, but even though she found a group of people to hang out with, she still did not feel fully accepted.

Baltazar says she thought people at the private school viewed her as a Hispanic girl who didn’t have high standards and acted “ghetto” with no manners. Her friends at the public school would tell her that she acted “white” and Baltazar could not find the balance between the two labels.

The PFW freshman says she was so excited to join Hispanos Unidos and finally be with a group that does not care about labels. “I’m with my people,” says Baltazar.

Baltazar hopes to be part of the club’s advertising committee to spread the word and form a stronger PFW community.

Haraguchi says future classes may be possible after the night’s turnout, with a grand total of 11 who signed the safety waiver and attendance forms. The free class was open to all PFW students and staff.

The Latinx hip-hop dance class was taught in the Hilliard Gates Fitness Studio, located inside the Hilliard Gates Sports Center, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 21 as posted on the Instagram pagefor Hispanos Unidos.

Anyone who wants to learn more about Hispanic culture and be involved in a group dedicated to inclusivity is welcome to join Hispanos Unidos.

Different nations of different stories

By: Tze Wan Goh

Purdue University Fort Wayne welcomes international students every semester, and while some students might be coping well with the new environment, others face challenges at some point during their stay in the United States.

The university is a diverse campus consisting of about 300 international students representing 51 countries from all around the world. As of the fall semester, around 80 to 85 international students were enrolled at PFW.

Among the many challenges and changes that international students have to go through, culture, daily habits, language and religion are some of the main struggles that they have to deal with during their stay in the United States.

Janice Kumala, the only international student from Indonesia, said that she faced homesickness and challenges due to the difference in weather when she first arrived in Fort Wayne.

Kumala, who is majoring in business marketing, came to the U.S. for better education in 2016 and has also experienced a difference in culture compared to her country. ““In the U.S., people are so much friendlier to strangers or to others in general, Kumala said. “It would be weird to say hi, back in Indonesia, but here it would be weird if you don’t say those things.”

Min Namgung, an international student from South Korea who is currently pursuing her master’s in computer science, also talked about some differences in culture. In her country, she said that people who are in the same major will sometimes have gatherings to get to know more about each other or build connections after classes.

“However, here, America, people do not care about each other even though they are in the same major, and do not have any gathering as a group,” Namgung said.

Namgung talked about some culture shocks that she experienced here in the U.S. Coming from a more conserved culture, she said she was surprised when one of her classmates talked about sex as a presentation topic whom later “gave a box of condoms to all classmates including lecturer.”

Not just culture, but daily routine is also somewhat different in the United States compared to what international students have in their countries. Namgung said that people back in her country recycles and separates their trash. She was shocked when she realized that recycling is not widely practiced in the United States.

“I did not know how to throw away my leftover food, and my friends just told me to throw away in the normal trash can,” she said.

Yi Mei Lam, an international exchange student from Switzerland who came to PFW during the fall semester, said that one of her main struggles was not being able go to places independently due to the low accessibility to public transportations.

“While the international office offered shopping trips, I missed having the independence to go wherever I wanted to whenever without relying on others,” Lam said.

Lam also struggled with the heavy workload that the university requires at first and had to get used to the consistency of assignments and tests.

Students also struggle with language when they first arrive in the United States. Namgung explained that even though she has her qualifications in English, it is different and more challenging in real life to take in the language.

Namgung talked about her experience with stereotyping that came from some of the international students while she was in the United States. “I would say it was from their ignorance of my culture, but they asked me if I did any plastic surgery ever or have eaten a dog. And they said they heard all Koreans did that,” Namgung said.

Kumala talked about the different religions in her country and Muslim is the most popular among other seven religions.“Although I’m not a Muslim, it is still different for me to not see a lot of Muslims,” Kumala said. She also said that she experienced culture shock from how early most restaurants or businesses close here and earlier during the weekends.

Both Kumala and Lam said that friends helped a lot in coping with the new environment, while Namgung said that she coped by copying others’ lifestyle and attitude.

Maureen Linvill, assistant director of the international student services, gave some tips and advice on how to cope with new environments. She said that students should get involved more on campus even though academics is the focus. Getting involved in student organizations or getting a job on campus helps with homesickness, Linvill said.

The office of international education provides different events throughout the semester, open to all local and international students and faculty to experience different festivals and cultures in the United States together. They also offer workshops and panels to help international students adapt to the new environment and educate local students about international cultures, religion, etc.

One of these events is “a day in their shoes,” held on Nov. 20, where everyone gets the chance to experience challenges that international students go through to study in the United States. Through the simulation, students who participated faced challenges like having their visa rejected, being rejected to entry at the border or problems with bank statements.

During the panel discussion, students and faculty gave advice to international students or those who plan to study abroad to be prepared in advance with all the paperwork, answers to give during a visa interview, the weather, etc. International students are advised to be flexible and open to new and different things.

Linvill advises students to not “stay in country bubbles,” which are groups of students who do not often get involved in meeting people from other cultures or local students. She also advises students to not hesitate to ask for help when needed.

“I feel like some students make assumptions and then find themselves into problems, maybe they didn’t take 12 credit hours or things that they have to do to maintain their status,” said Linvill.

“If in doubt come see me,” she said.

Campus Feminists in Solidarity—A Glance at Women’s Studies and Feminism on the Purdue University Fort Wayne Campus

College Activist Group—Challenges, Misconceptions and Overcoming Obstacles

By Moriah Weaver

The women’s studies and feminist activist group, Campus Feminists in Solidarity, had its first call-out meeting of the Purdue University Fort Wayne fall semester last Tuesday, Nov. 12.

The group seeks to create a community which can relate through common values regarding feminism and gender equality. They also hope to provide educational opportunities for students wanting to better understand the goals of the women’s studies program.

“Our goal is to provide a safe space for feminists on Purdue Fort Wayne’s campus,” said CFS president Shelby Thomas.

Thomas said the group strives to initiate discussions in which students do not feel held back in sharing what is on their mind regarding feminism-related issues. They are also particularly interested in helping non-feminists come to a better understanding of the movement.

“For me, when I think of feminism, I think everyone is equal. Men, women, people of the LQBTQ community, people of color, people with disabilities, everyone,” she said.

When speaking with Dr. Noor Borbieva, an anthropology and women’s studies professor at Purdue University Fort Wayne, she defined feminism as gender differences not creating inequality in and of themselves.

She also said that there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings associated with feminism and the women’s studies program. The most common she hears is that women are equal in our society.

“The kinds of harassment and dehumanization and tribalization that I see all around me, in the media, in what my students suffer…is troubling,” she said. “Not a semester goes by that I don’t hear horrific stories of gender oppression from my students.”

CFS treasurer Sam Schubert said that she has heard many false accusations regarding CFS, but the most troubling is that they serve no purpose.

“People think that we sit around and complain about stuff, but we don’t actually do anything,” she said.

Other misconceptions discussed by sources include that feminist group meetings are just “man hating sessions” and that the women’s studies program is useless in the academia environment.

It is likely that these stigmas contribute to many of the obstacles faced by CFS and the women’s studies program at Purdue University Fort Wayne. The group has dealt with repeated hostility from campus community in the past.

Thomas said that she had first-hand witnessed CFS posters being taken down by other people, one being a professor at the university.

The women’s studies program has also run into issues like this, almost being removed from the university as a major in 2017.

Professor Borbieva said that she saw someone had graffitied negative words about women’s studies on one of the department’s posters just the day before our discussion.

“It took major student mobilization to preserve women’s studies,” she said. “It’s a constant battle.”

Thomas said that when the program was under threat, the women’s studies students came together to advocate and petition for its protection. This led to a change in decision from the university to keep women’s studies as a program for students.

Professor Borbieva said that women’s studies are valuable courses for students—their goals being for women to understand the challenges they face, for students to be educated on the workings of power more broadly, to foster in students a commitment to activism, and to empower students and help them understand the workings of power in their own lives.

It is these principles which are enforced by Thomas and other CFS members. They hope to further interact with the Purdue University Fort Wayne community throughout the rest of the fall and spring semesters.

Next steps for CFS includes the start of a feminist book club and what the group calls, “The F Word”, in which women’s studies affiliated faculty is interviewed and explains how their research relates to feminist ideals. They hope to have these started before the end of the school year.

Schubert said that the group also hopes to get connected with other Purdue University Fort Wayne clubs and organizations to work together in hosting events for students.

“People need to come together with people who share their views, that’s where you find power. That’s where you find affirmation and you can feel good about who you are as a person and get through social connection with other people,” said Professor Borbieva. “That’s the joy of being a human, what else is there?”

LGBT+ student center opens on campus

By: Brandon Blumenherst

As the new strategic plan for the future of Purdue Fort Wayne is defined, one of its main focus is to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion. A new center on campus provides a better visual reference of the campus becoming a more inclusive place.

The LGBT+ Resource Center opened in early October in Walb Student Union on Purdue Fort Wayne’s campus.

The center serves as a space for students to hang out and study, but also serves to be a “first-stop shop” for people with questions about the LGBTQ community, said Jordan Sanderson, coordinator of the Resource Center.

“We wanted a safe space for students, but we also wanted to educate people,” Sanderson added. The center hosts multiple workshops throughout the year on various topics related to gender identity, sexuality, and LGBTQ history. The Center also has a small library filled with LGBTQ literature.

Sanderson said that the center is usually full of students either swinging by between classes or studying in the back room. However, he was somewhat surprised by the amount of people who decided to visit the office. “I didn’t expect people to come in so frequently with questions,” said Sanderson. He added that many of them were not a part of the LGBTQ community, but they were “so willing to learn, which is something we don’t see very often.”

The center opened just prior to the Strategic Planning Committee sending out a campus climate survey focused on embracing diversity, equity and inclusion. Sanderson believes that the survey is a step in the right direction and more research is needed on the campus climate to identify needs within the campus community for LGBTQ students and staff.

“With 19% of the freshman class identifying as a part of the LGBTQ community or preferring not to answer, there is a significant part of our student population who could utilize this center,” Sanderson said. Although the center is open to everyone, the demographic justification added to the need for a student center after years of having various LGBT+ groups working to represent students on campus.

Hugo Mata, a student who frequently visits the Resource Center, said that the Center is a great place to provide a safe and affirming environment for LGBTQ students and he is spreading the word about the Center.

“Whenever I meet someone in the [LGBTQ] community, I tell them about the office. It’s usually just by word of mouth that I’ve seen more students come to the office,” Mata said. In addition to word of mouth, some students stop in after walking past the office.

As one walks through the hallway, the office emanates rainbow light from the signature Pride wall and all of the rainbow décor within. The walls are adorned with pictures of LGBTQ icons including Sharice Davids, a United States Senator from Kansas, and Billy Porter, a fashion icon and activist.

Vic Spencer, the Center’s director, explained in an email that their current priorities are “to elevate the visibility of both the Center and our LGBTQ population.” They said that the center plans to “expand [the center’s] programming” to include other aspects of LGBTQ health, history, and advocacy activities.

A 2019 Human Rights Campaign report, the Municipal Equality Index, also recently rated Fort Wayne with a score of 40 out of 100. This report is “based on its laws, policies, and services of municipalities on the basis of their inclusivity of LGBTQ people.” Out of nine cities scored in Indiana, Fort Wayne had the worst score. Terre Haute scored 42, while other major cities like Indianapolis and Bloomington scored 89 and 100 respectively.

Future renovations of downtown Fort Wayne

By: Kayla Wisniewski

The Public Works Division will be replacing existing historical brick pavement from Hoagland to Webster on Butler Street. The City Council discussed the project on Oct. 22 at City Hall in Fort Wayne.

They will be constructing a new base setting, brick pavers, replacing castings, upgrading ADA ramps and repairing sidewalks within the next month.

The project will cost $1,000 a foot, which is almost $0.5 million for 560 feet. The committee explained that although it is an expensive project, it holds integrity for a historical value and will help the neighborhood property values rise.

Shan Gunawardena, the director of Public Works, explained how by improving the city of Fort Wayne, the living conditions for citizens will be accommodated for and more people will want to live there. “We want to serve the community here in Fort Wayne to a high standard where everyone feels that they live in a clean and safe environment,”Gunawardena said.

The division comprises of 11 department services which include street and traffic lighting, leaf collection, street sweeping, snow and ice control, recycling and the city’s transportation system. The Division of Public Works maintains and improves many different areas in Fort Wayne.

The Public Works Division website stated that Public Works supports the citizens of Fort Wayne as well as accommodates for the neighborhoods, businesses, and development projects.

Gunawardena said it’s important that Fort Wayne has a strong Public Works Division because the city is very large in population and has many businesses. Gunawardena explained the department really puts in the time on developing projects to fulfill what the city needs in terms of repair and stability.

Michelle Nelson, the board of Public Works manager, gave details on improvements by the Public Works Division in Fort Wayne. “Our department is always working on projects to help improve the city and continue to service the community,”Nelson said.

Some of the recent improvements were the reconstruction of the Edsall Avenue bridge over the Norfolk Southern Railroad, and the widening of Dupont Road with new sidewalk, trail, street lighting and landscaping. Also, the realignment and widening of State Boulevard from Spy Run Avenue to Cass Street with a new bridge, sidewalk and trail. The department is continuing to propose new projects and starting many more.

“We are excited to start this project on the historical brick pavement because the roads will be in great conditions for drivers and pedestrians,”Nelson said. The start of many of the departments projects revolves around the convenience the finished product will have. Nelson said that she believes this project will have that effect and put Fort Wayne in a better state. “The Public Works department has put a lot of time and thought into this project,”Nelson explained.

A citizen of Fort Wayne, Alyssa Krause, expressed that the Public Works Division has improved her living in the city through the road work. The road leading into her apartment complex was rough with potholes and other issues. “This year they not only filled in potholes but completely redid the road and I can drive smoothly now,”Krause said.

Krause explained how the city should be working on the time length it takes to finish the roads. “I understand it’s a long process, but I feel like they start a lot of projects at one time rather than focusing on one at a time”Krause said. She believes by funding the department more, it will help improve the way of living in the city of Fort Wayne.

The project on Butler Street is set to be completed on April 17, 2020.

Budget for the Greater Fort Wayne

By: Tze Wan Goh

Mayor Tom Henry announced the 2020 Fort Wayne City budget, which mainly focuses on public safety on Sept. 19 at the city council meeting. The aim of the budget focuses on strengthening neighborhoods and providing important and necessary services to residents, neighborhoods and businesses, according to the mayor.

The budget will contribute additional 15 new police recruits to the Fort Wayne Police Department academy class, four new police K-9 units, a new explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) robot and x-ray system for the bomb unit, which is part of the Fort Wayne Police Department’s Special Operations Division.

In conjunction to the increase budget for the Fort Wayne Police Department, there will be 480 officers patrolling the streets in the city to make sure that the public is safe. The mayor is aiming to have full target staffing for both the Fort Wayne Police Department and Fire Department with the allocated budget.

“Fort Wayne is a safe city. Our top priority is ensuring the safety and protection of residents, neighborhoods, businesses, and visitors,” Mayor Henry said. “We will continue to implement best practices as a community committed to being the very best.”

Fort Wayne’s crime rate has decreased this year, according to a joint statement released on Oct. 29 by Mayor Tom Henry and Police Chief Steve Reed. Homicide rates have decreased 44.44 percent, non-fatal shootings decreased by 16.09 percent and violent crime rates decreased by 7.3 percent, in comparison with the first three quarters of last year.

However, according to the September cumulative crime rate statistics from the Fort Wayne police department website, there were 19 homicides this year and 29 in 2018 during the years’ first three quarters, which is a decrease of 34 percent instead of 44 percent.

Joe Knepper, communications director for Republican mayoral candidate Tim Smith, stated in response that mayor Henry might be lying about the numbers, or is misleading “the public putting his election ahead of the truth,” according to News Sentinel.

Ruth Girma, a Purdue Fort Wayne student who has been living in Fort Wayne for more than 10 years, said that Fort Wayne is safe, and she did not need to worry about safety like she would when she was living in Chicago. She said that she had called the police in the past and the police officers responded efficiently by getting to where they needed to be on time and being very kind, patient and empathetic.

“To my knowledge I think that the crime rate in Fort Wayne is pretty low. There are some crimes here and there, but it is nothing compared to other big cities,” Girma said.

According to the Uniform Crime Reports released by the FBI, the crime rates in Chicago are higher than Fort Wayne. The city of Chicago, with a population of about 2.7 million, registered 27,357 reports of violent crimes – 563 of them were murder and nonnegligent manslaughter. Fort Wayne had 1,024 reports of violent crimes, including 40 for murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, in a city of about 260,000.

Girma said that it is good to have extra precaution and adding more safety personnel in Fort Wayne will make people feel that they are living in a safe area. She said that this new budget will improve the safety of Fort Wayne.

“Anytime the police department gets more money, it allows the police to do more things and to do the things they’re already doing in a much better way. So, more money always helps,” said Trent Ruble, a Purdue Fort Wayne police officer.

Officer Trent gave some insights on the money allocation among the different departments in the city. “Since the city only has a certain amount of money and the other city departments have their needs as well, without knowing those needs, it is difficult to say if the police department is getting the right amount of money,” said Ruble.

Other than public safety, the 2020 Fort Wayne City budget is mainly focusing on neighborhood infrastructure and parks. Out of the $36.3 million that constitute the total budget for infrastructure projects, $23.9 million is allocated for neighborhood infrastructure projects, $1.4 million for bridges, $8 million for sidewalks and alleys, and $3 million for city park projects.

“We’re a city on the move with unprecedented momentum and excitement. By working together, 2020 will be an outstanding year in Fort Wayne as we strive for excellence in providing the best services possible to the public,” mayor Henry said.

Fort Wayne has achieved national recognition in 2019, having the lowest cost of living for four years in a row, according to Niche. It is also ranked as the 12th best run city and 10th best real estate market in the country by WalletHub, and 40th best place to live in the country by U.S. News & World Report, according to the City of Fort Wayne website.

East Allen county plans to expand trade schools

By: Jada Burtin

East Allen County will be adding another trade school to our community as they prepare for the launch of their Career and Technical Center in the 2020-2021 school year.

Trade schools have become a need in Allen County, and the United States as a whole. Construction and manufacturing industries hold the slot for one in five jobs, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD). They also predict that there will be a vast market and need for construction workers within the next ten years, estimating over 10,000 job openings within Allen County alone.

Kristi Sturtz, president at Sturtz Public Management Group and New Allen Rural Liaison attended the county council meeting on Oct.18 where she addressed the need for trade schools and what was being set in place to bring a solution to this issue.

Sturtz introduced the Career and Technical Center to the panel of council members and stated that the project will bring opportunities for students to learn skills in the trade field.

The Career and Technical Center will include the following six programs: automation and robotics, pharmacy technology, construction trades, health science, precision machining, and cybersecurity. The alternative school will also be housed there, a program designed to assist the educational and behavioral needs of students that could be difficult to accomplish in a traditional class setting.

The building will be a renovation project of the previous Meadowbrook Elementary School building, located on 1065 Woodmere Drive in New Haven, Indiana.

According to the media outlet IN Fort Wayne, Tim Wiegand, executive director of East Allen County’s Career, Alternative & Technical Education program, said that the institution is being designed to specifically accommodate the workforce needs of Allen County.

“All these programs are filling a workforce now that is really difficult to fill,” Wiegand said to IN Fort Wayne.

With the pressure of attending traditional college, many students miss out on the opportunities that trade schools offer which has caused a need for technically trained professionals.

Trade schools being offered during high school give students a head start at a potential career.
The Career Academy at Anthis has been providing students with technical and vocational training for over 30 years.

Robert Roebuck, assistant principal of the Career Academy at Anthis, gave insight on the importance of trade schools. He mentioned that studies have shown that students who attend a local career center are more likely to complete a college degree than a student who only attended traditional high school.

“Applied hands-on learning has always been the best way to teach a student, learn the theory and go practice the skills. This simple formula helps students to grow personally and professionally just like you did,” Roebuck said.

Roebuck also mentioned that finding space and teachers are their number one concern when it comes to expanding. He explained that the pay will need to increase in order to encourage teachers from different businesses and industries to work for them.

Janae Mcgill, former student of the Career Academy at Anthis, gave her perspective on attending a trade school and how it benefited her. She mentioned that attending the Career Academy gave her a head start in her career, as she currently is a licensed Cosmetologist and also a college student.

Mcgill also explained how attending a trade school saved her a lot of money.

“I only had to pay around $100-$200 for the two-year program versus paying anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000,” Mcgill said. “I also earned college credits for each year that I was in the program.”

She talked about the opportunities for networking that were provided to her through the Career Academy. Employers from different companies would come in and interview the students to prepare them for the real workforce. This also secured many students with job offers right after graduating, including Mcgill.

“Attending a trade school was one of the best decisions I’ve made,” Mcgill said. “I made many connections with other people in the same field. It also looks great on your resume.”

NACS School Board and Teacher’s Union agree on teacher raises

By: Caroline Chastain

Northwest Allen County Schools Board of School Trustees and the Northwest Allen County Educators Association reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement on Sept. 25, outlining more than $1,800 in raises for NACS teachers.

Collective bargaining is a process for teacher unions that dates back to 1973. The process is a familiar one for NACS and NACEA, although this was the first time NACS hosted a public hearing in regard to the tentative collective bargaining agreement, which took place before the board’s meeting on Oct. 14.

The process to reach an agreement begins with an analysis of state funding for the fiscal year, and then salary changes for teachers are dictated respectively. According to Lizette Downey, NACS Chief Communications Officer, this was a relatively smooth year for this process, regardless of the newly implemented public hearing.

Throughout the entire process, the school board and NACEA representatives work closely.

“We really do work together during this process. It’s in our best interest to consider the teachers in this process so that we can compete for talent and so our kids have the best quality teachers we can find,” NACS Superintendent Chris Himsel said.

The three major components of the negotiation are insurance benefits, retirement, and salaries and stipends. One of the newer focuses of this year’s agreement is on continued education for teachers.

“We have been focusing on changing the contract over the years to give an incentive for professional growth and reward teachers for their commitment to the district,” said Jim Walker, one of the teacher union’s chief negotiators.

Among the salary increases for NACS employees is an addition of $245 for continuing professional learning. Teachers with more than 5 years of experience will also be eligible for $273 in stipends.

Himsel said that this stresses NACS’s desire to employ only the most experienced and expert staff, to provide its students with the highest quality of education.

Coincidingly, teachers are now offered a stipend of $800 for earning a National Board Certification. According to Himsel, very few NACS teachers are currently Board certified, so this incentive has been put in place to encourage more teachers to work towards one.

With this agreement reached, NACS teachers will receive a minimum base salary of $41,250 this school year. Teachers with a bachelor’s degree are eligible for a maximum base salary of $66,000, and those with a master’s degree, a maximum base salary of $70,125.

Additional potential stipends are available for performance based on teacher’s annual reviews. Reviews with indication of “ineffective” or “needs improvement” are not eligible for raises, while those receiving “effective” or “highly effective” can earn up to $1,007 of additions to their salary.

NACS teachers are also seeing a raise in their pay checks by $842 because the general assembly recently reduced the amount school districts are required to pay into teachers’ state retirement funds.

Five NACS employees were contacted to comment on the raises, and none wanted to discuss the topic.

With all of these changes implemented in this year’s NACS and NACEA tentative collective bargaining agreement, teachers are experiencing a $1,849 minimum increase in their base salary. Those already at the maximum base salary will receive these increases as stipends.

NACEA President Steve Driver shared that these changes are in an effort to both reward and retain the best teachers.

“Essentially these changes make us a better school system and help our students because of how it rewards our teachers to work to their fullest,” Driver said.