The Howard County school board voted last night to ask the state legislature for a 100 percent pay raise, seeking to double members' salaries from $6,000 to $12,000 per year.
In aiming to join Montgomery and Prince George's counties as the highest-paid school boards in the state, members repeatedly described their request as "reasonable" given the amount of work that they must do.
"The combined efforts of the five board members -- particularly ,, the chair[woman] -- contribute at least as much to this school system as one new teacher can contribute," said board member Karen Campbell.
Also last night, the board fired the Hammond Middle School teacher who is awaiting trial on charges that he supplied alcohol to minors on the final day of school last spring.
In the pay raise discussion, the five-member board -- already the highest paid in the Baltimore metropolitan area -- unanimously agreed to seek its first raise since 1986, when members' salaries were doubled from $3,000 to $6,000.
Members also voted that the chairman of the board should receive $2,000 more than the others, seeking to increase the salary of that position to $14,000. The board's request must be approved by the county's legislative delegation, which would need to push it through the state legislature in 1996 as a local bill.
"I think that the number put forward here is not only a reasonable number but is one that is so easily supported based on the volume of work and other changes that have happened," including increases in the salaries of teachers and members of the county council during the past decade, said board member Stephen Bounds.
Several members of the county legislative delegation previously have agreed that school board members are underpaid, but have not committed to how large of a pay raise they would be willing to support.
Last night, board members acknowledged that difficult negotiations may be ahead this fall over the size of their proposed raise.
"I'd be surprised in these times we are in today if we are going to get an increase doubling our salary just like that," said member Linda Johnston.
The two highest-paid school boards in Maryland are in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, where members receive $12,000 and $13,000, respectively. The chairmen of each of the boards is paid $14,000.
Student enrollment in both of those counties is well over 100,000, while about 38,000 pupils attend Howard schools.
But in a previous meeting, Howard board members dismissed the enrollment disparities, arguing that board members in those two counties have less responsibilities because they are elected by district and only are responsible for the schools within their district. Howard board members are responsible for all of the schools because they are elected to countywide seats, members said.
Board members also agreed to ask that any pay raise take effect immediately, rather than be delayed until a member is re-elected or a new person takes office.
In firing the seventh-grade social studies teacher charged with supplying alcohol to six of his students from Hammond Middle, board members made no comment last night. The board decided during an earlier executive session that it could not ask the state to revoke the teacher's credentials because the case did not involve either child abuse or neglect, said schools spokeswoman Patti Caplan.
The teacher, Todd Keith Greenleaf, 29, of the 8700 block of Tamar Drive, is scheduled to stand trial in Howard District Court on Oct. 12 on six misdemeanor charges, each carrying a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Court documents say that Mr. Greenleaf -- who had been teaching at the North Laurel school for two years -- admitted purchasing malt liquor and beer for students June 13 after the final half-day of school.
Mr. Greenleaf then took the five boys and one girl -- who were 12 to 15 years old -- to his townhouse, where the children drank the alcohol, the documents said.