Teachers to vote on pact Proposed 3% raise adds $3 million to school budget

April 04, 1993|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Howard County and its teachers have tentatively agreed on contracts for the next school year, despite previous talk of an impasse.

Teachers would get a 3 percent pay increase across the board, adding $3 million to next year's proposed $203 million operating budget. Each teacher would get $777 to $2,400 more, depending on experience.

Support personnel, including secretaries, other clerical workers and health and teaching assistants, agreed to a 5 percent increase, adding about $350,000 to the operating budget.

A council of the Howard County Education Association, which represents teachers, secretaries and others, voted to accept the agreement last week. Members -- about 3,200 in all -- are expected to turn in their votes by Wednesday.

If approved, the raises would take effect July 1.

"The challenge now is for parents and educators to convince the county executive and the County Council to totally fund the education budget, including the supplemental budget," said James R. Swab, union president. "The total funding is essential to maintaining quality schools in Howard County."

County Executive Charles I. Ecker was unsure whether the county would be able to pay for the salary increases. "Certainly teachers and employees deserve increases, but whether we can fund it or not is a different story," he said.

He said he intends to give education $12 million more next year than in the current budget. But of that, $7 million likely will cover Social Security for school employees. Most of the balance would be needed for new teachers and materials for two schools opening in 1993 and for 1,500 new students expected to enter the Howard County system.

School board Chairman Dana Hanna said he didn't want to comment on the agreement until teach ers approve it. "I'll have no comment until we have a done deal," he said.

The two sides have been negotiating since November. Although the union wrote letters to Nancy S. Grasmick, state school superintendent, last month asking her to declare an impasse, the union continued to negotiate.

"The negotiation team felt an obligation to bring back [an] offer," said union negotiator Marius Ambrose. "We're glad it ended without a war. In this war, there are no winners. There are just negative vibrations."

Teachers were unsuccessful in negotiating longevity pay increases.

"What that does is destroy or begins to destroy the scale," Mr. Ambrose said. "The next round of negotiations, we are committed to restoring that scale."

The 25-step scale increases salaries depending on teacher seniority.

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