The Baltimore Teachers Union ratified a new one-year contract yesterday that provides pay raises ranging from $300 to $2,000 -- the first increases in three years.
"I can't say that I'm really happy with this contract, but nonetheless I am glad that it was ratified," said Irene B. Dandridge, president of the union.
Union members also ratified a new contract that gives $300 raises to 1,800 paraprofessionals.
Both contracts take effect next month.
The votes at Greenspring Middle School came just three weeks after the union announced that contract negotiations with the city were at an impasse.
Ms. Dandridge said that roughly 12 percent of the 6,700 teachers voted yesterday, ratifying the pact by a 2-1 margin.
Earlier this month, union leaders said the city had offered teachers a one-year contract with a 2 percent raise.
At the time, the union called the proposed increase insufficient, saying it would do nothing to stem the flow of teachers from Baltimore to better-paying suburban school systems.
The contract approved yesterday included little new money over what was initially offered by the city.
However, money was moved around to close some disparities between the pay teachers receive in the city and what their counterparts get in neighboring counties.
For instance, Ms. Dandridge said, the new contract adds $2,000 a year to the salaries of teachers who have eight years' experience and a master's degree. A teacher with those credentials will earn $29,045.
Pay for beginning teachers will increase to $22,605 from $22,162.
The new contract also creates "steps" that give teachers longevity raises between their 15th and 20th years on the job and between their 20th and 25th years.
Another 1,300 teachers at the top of the experience scale will receive $300 bonuses in December, Ms. Dandridge said.
Ms. Dandridge said the changes should help the city keep teachers who often flee Baltimore for teaching jobs in neighboring jurisdictions.
After 11 years, a teacher with a master's degree currently earns $30,088 in Baltimore, the lowest salary in the region.
In Howard County, a teacher with similar credentials earns $38,031.
With ratification of the new contract, Baltimore joins Howard, Harford and Carroll counties, which settled their teachers contracts.
Each of those jurisdictions gave teachers pay raises averaging 3 percent.
Negotiations in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties are at an impasse.