After holding a rally and winning the school board's support for a 4 percent salary increase, the Carroll teachers union learned yesterday that county commissioners will give their crucial approval to the raise.
"The fact that the commissioners are willing to support the governor's salary enhancement will do a lot to boost teacher morale," said Cindy Cummings, president of the Carroll County Education Association, the local teacher's union. She also said the salary increase could help the county retain quality teachers.
School Superintendent William H. Hyde had included a 3 percent raise in teacher salaries in his proposed budget. The school board voted last month to increase the raise to 4 percent after Gov. Parris N. Glendening promised to reward counties that give teachers a 4 percent raise with an additional 1 percent in state funds. The state will provide the extra funds for each of the next two years.
In March, county Budget Director Steve Powell included a 3 percent salary increase for teachers and other school staff in his proposed spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The salary increase announced yesterday will raise teacher salaries to 4 percent and will cover only one year; the commissioners will have to consider a second 4 percent increase next year.
"I'm sorry that the commissioners haven't included an increase for the school system's support staff," Cummings said.
The school system's proposed $185.8 million budget includes $2.1 million for 61 new teaching positions, $600,000 for 22 instructional positions in special education, money for staffing and resources at the new Shiloh Middle School in Hampstead and money to reduce class size.
The school board is asking for $3.1 million more than county budget officials have proposed in their spending plan for next year.
The commissioners are expected to decide next month how much they will give the school system and where that money will be spent.
For the first time, the commissioners will direct money in the school system's budget to specific categories, such as textbooks, administration and instructional staff.
"In the past, we voted to give the school system a certain amount of money and sent that amount over to the Board of Education. The board would then figure out how to spend the money," said Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier, who was the only commissioner at yesterday's meeting. "This year, we have developed categories to guide their spending. Our goal is to put money where it needs to be, and that's in the classrooms."
Frazier told members of the teachers union that she realized a good school system is key to attracting business and industry to Carroll County -- one of the goals of the Board of County Commissioners -- and hoped the salary increase would help attract and retain quality teachers.
Raising teacher salaries from 3 percent to 4 percent will cost the county $805,000.
According to the Maryland State Teacher's Association (MSTA), teachers in some neighboring counties -- including Howard, Harford and Montgomery -- have received pledges of 5 percent raises from their school boards.
Once it is adopted by the Carroll commissioners, the school system's budget is contingent on money from the state.
A first-year teacher in Carroll earns $28,410. With a 5 percent raise, the salary would go to $29,830.
The governor has agreed to help poorer districts pay for their share of the 4 percent raise. Baltimore City would receive more than $3 million to reach the 4 percent goal, and then receive additional state funds to meet the extra 1 percent. Carroll is tentatively set to receive about $150,000 from the state to help it reach the 4 percent mark.