More money but no more time for teachers

Educators get pay raise, but contract includes no additional planning hours

June 30, 1999|By David L. Greene | David L. Greene,SUN STAFF

Carroll County schoolteachers won more money yesterday. As for additional planning time? Some teachers may have to wait another year.

The school board signed a new contract with the teacher's union that includes a 3 percent raise for the second straight year. About half of the county's teachers, who are not receiving the maximum salary, will move up a step on the pay scale.

Starting teachers in Carroll next year will make $28,410, according to the Department of Human Resources. Raises are not automatic. Teachers received no raises two years ago.

The board signed yesterday a similar contract with other employees, including administrators, clerical workers, and custodial, maintenance, transportation and food services personnel.

Teachers, particularly at the elementary level, have also been pushing for more planning time.

Schools Superintendent William H. Hyde made it a priority this year to create staff positions in the elementary schools to alleviate teachers' load. But when the school board cut its budget yesterday, all 14 of those additional positions were eliminated.

Ralph Blevins, president of the Carroll County Education Association that represents teachers, called a temporary solution acceptable: Each school will explore other ways -- using hourly-wage funds to hire cafeteria monitors to relieve teachers, for example -- to create more planning time. School administrators said such plans could provide as much as 30 extra minutes for some teachers.

Blevins blamed the school system's financial constraints -- not Hyde -- for missing out on more positions.

"We took the most planning time we could get," Blevins said. "But they've got a long way to go before they can get what they need."

Elementary teachers average a little over 40 minutes of planning time a day. New language in the contract guarantees 225 to 240 minutes a week (except for kindergarten teachers, who will get 225 minutes a week), but that is little more than they were receiving.

The contract includes a pledge to give elementary teachers 300 minutes a week by the 2004-2005 school year.

The issue is less a concern in middle schools and high schools, where teachers customarily have more planning time.

For the third straight year, the union and school system negotiators used a nonconfrontational form of bargaining that was invented at the Harvard Business School and focuses the groups more on what they can agree on, as opposed to the gap between what each side wants.

"It's working together as a committee rather than two sides taking a viewpoint," said Stephen Guthrie, Carroll's supervisor of human resources.

Pub Date: 6/30/99

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