Mid-career teachers in Indianapolis Public Schools could get “catch up” raises as large as $9,400 if school board members approve a tentative contract for the next two years.

Teachers across the district would see substantial pay increases under the proposal, with the district’s starting salary for teachers rising to $45,200 this school year, according to a union official.

The sweeping raises are the result of a tax referendum approved by the voters last November — with the promise of higher teacher pay — that will inject about $27.5 million a year into the school system for the next eight years. The raises also mark a significant and potentially reinvigorating victory for the Indianapolis Education Association, a teachers union that has been weakened by scandal and the district’s growing collaboration with charter schools.

A union official confirmed that the contract was ratified by teachers. It will now go to the Indianapolis Public Schools board for approval.

Tina Ahlgren, an Indianapolis Education Association negotiator and an IPS math teacher, described the new contract as the culmination of years of advocacy for increasing pay for educators in Indianapolis Public Schools.

“This is not just a few days, or a few weeks, or even a few months worth of work. This contract is the result of over a decade’s worth of work, some of it in the public eye and much of it behind the scenes,” Ahlgren told a room full of teachers Monday night at a union ratification meeting, much of it streamed on Facebook by one of the educators. “This is the biggest step by far in a long term strategy that has played out over the last five years.”

Roughly 1,900 educators would be covered under the union-negotiated contract with Indianapolis Public Schools. Most teachers at the city’s innovation schools, which are part of the district but run by outside managers, are not covered under the contract. About a quarter of the 33,000 students in Indianapolis Public Schools attend innovation schools.

IEA President Ronald Swann did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An Indianapolis Public Schools spokeswoman said district officials would not comment on the contract until it is finalized.

Under the proposed agreement, which has not been made public or posted online, the district’s starting salary for teachers in 2019-20 would go up by more than $2,600. The deal also brings a reward for teachers who are at the top of the current scale. The highest rung on the pay scale would go to $82,800, up from $74,920. In the second year of the contract, pay for starting teachers would increase to $47,800 and the top of the scale would reach $90,000.

(Many longtime teachers in the district also earn additional pay for advanced education, but teachers who joined the district more recently are not eligible for that extra money.)

More experienced teachers, many of whom endured years of pay freezes, could see significant increases in pay. Educators with more than three years of experience in the district could see “catch up” raises of as much as $9,400. Teachers in the middle of their careers would be eligible for the largest raises because union leaders say they are significantly underpaid relative to teachers in nearby districts.

A new state law requires the board to hold a public hearing on the tentative agreement before the school board votes, so it will be several days before the deal becomes official.

Photo by Alan Petersime/Chalkbeat: A teacher looks on as a student works at a laptop computer at Crispus Attucks High School, a public school in Indianapolis, Indiana.