Educators demanding pay raise Arundel school salary may stay flat for 3rd year

February 04, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Facing a third year in a row without a raise, school system employees last night asked the school board to include money for a salary increase in the budget year that begins July 1.

The president of the teacher's union also told the board that some members were looking for jobs elsewhere and that others were in economic distress because their salaries have not kept pace with the increased cost of living.

"A number of teachers have indicated that they are job hunting, while others are in real danger of losing their homes," said Thomas J. Paolino, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County. "Anger has soared while morale has plummeted."

"To service the public and the public schools, the board's budget must reflect the true needs of the system. And those true needs include improved salary compensation for educators," Mr. Paolino said.

He criticized Superintendent C. Berry Carter II's proposed, $380.9 million spending plan as "a budget aimed at pleasing the county executive, not a budget that presents a vision of the present needs and the future direction of our school system. It is a preshrunk, make-do budget, dictated by political aspirations rather than educational needs."

About 300 union members, parents and other citizens attended the first of two budget hearings last night at board headquarters on Riva Road in Annapolis.

Mr. Carter's spending plan, submitted to the school board last month, provides funding for an additional 57 employees -- teachers, guidance counselors, secretaries and assistant principals for the county's 78 elementary schools. But it does not include cost-of-living adjustments for the school system's employees.

"Teachers' salaries in Anne Arundel County have been at a standstill for two years," Mr. Paolino said, "The situation has resulted in a significant drop in real income for teachers.

"Insult was added to injury last year when teachers were furloughed 3.2 days without pay, making a mockery of the notion of fair compensation," he said. "As one . . . teacher put it, 'Teaching in Anne Arundel County has become a financial burden.' "

Dee Zepp, president of the Secretaries and Assistants of Anne Arundel County, told board members that after 15 years as an aide in the county she made $14,999 last year, compared to an aide in Prince George's County who makes $21,000 after six years.

"After 15 years, I don't think it is unreasonable to expect to be paid for what I do," she said.

In a very emotional speech, special education assistant Nancy Phelps told the board she did not know how much longer she would be able to continue her education at Towson State University with her tuition increasing while her $16,522 salary remains constant.

"We are human beings," Mrs. Phelps said. "We have lives outside the school. And we need help financially."

While Mr. Carter's proposed budget -- $32 million more than this year's operating budget of $348.7 million -- attempts to compensate for understaffed and over crowded elementary schools, parents last night told the board that the request of 57 additional positions was not enough.

"This is a valiant effort to keep expenses at last year's level," said Polly Harris, who has had two children go through Annapolis-area schools. "But this is just not enough. I sometimes think you all are on Mount Pinatubo or Mount St. Helens before the eruption. That's how serious I think the problem is."

A second public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Feb. 10 at Old Mill High School. The board will adopt a budget on Feb. 17.

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