3% raises for teachers are endorsed along with $165 million school budget HARFORD COUNTY

February 10, 1993|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

Harford County teachers, who have gone without a raise for more than two years, would get 3 percent across-the-board salary increases under a three-year contract approved by the county school board.

The raises come as part of a $165.3 million operating budget the board passed unanimously Monday night.

School board members, heeding the recommendation of Superintendent Ray R. Keech, added money to the school system's proposed spending plan but made no substantial changes.

The budget includes money to hire 180 teachers and other full-time personnel. It would upgrade 11 part-time assistant principals to full-time and pay for 16 art teachers so every elementary school could offer art classes.

Board members agreed to Mr. Keech's request to add $145,000 for reference materials at all school libraries. Each elementary school would get $2,500, each middle school $3,000 and each high school $5,000.

Money for library books is now allocated on a per-pupil basis, but that's unfair to smaller schools, Mr. Keech said. For library books, the per-pupil allocation at elementary schools is $10.75, at middle schools $11.55 and at high schools $20.15.

"Our older libraries are not in bad shape, but our concern is that smaller elementary schools, such as Norrisville, Dublin, Forest Hill or Darlington, don't have the same reference base as larger schools," Mr. Keech said.

Along with providing for the across-the-board raises, the teachers contract includes annual step raises for qualifying employees -- raises that would be passed along to the school system's 1,400 nonteaching employees.

Only teachers who have worked in the school system 15 years or less qualify for the step raises.

Members of the Harford County Education Association, which represents about 1,500 of the county's 2,200 teachers, overwhelmingly ratified the contract about two weeks ago.

A three-year contract for the Harford County Educational Association, a union representing instructional assistants, nurses and others, also received unanimous board approval. The school system's 45 nurses would get a $5,000 raise over three years in addition to a 3 percent raise and step increases.

The budget now goes to county Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, who must prepare her countywide operating budget by April 1. The County Council then has until May 31 to adopt a county budget.

More than half of the school system's proposed budget, about $90.6 million, would come from the county, compared with $75.7 million in the current budget. The state would contribute 43 percent, and the rest would come from federal and other sources, such as box office receipts from sporting events.

The county's share of the budget includes $5.6 million for teachers' Social Security. Starting this year, the state, which used to pay that amount, shifted that burden to local school systems.

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