City teachers OK contract

includes two 5 percent raises

November 01, 2001|By Michael Scarcella | Michael Scarcella,SUN STAFF

Baltimore public school teachers approved a two-year contract yesterday that included making salaries more competitive with surrounding school districts and the introduction of compensated professional development time.

The contract was approved by a 4-1 margin in voting by just 721 of the Baltimore Teachers Union's approximately 7,000 members.

Sharon Y. Blake, the union president, said it was a large voter turnout for approval of the contract granting teachers 5 percent raises this year and next, and payment for their required 20 hours of professional development. It also gives teachers who adopt children four weeks of paid leave.

"This contract sends a message that the board is serious about teaching and learning in Baltimore City," Blake said last night.

Contract negotiations began in December and concluded early last month.

Neil Ross, a union official on the negotiating team, said contract talks were relatively smooth. "There weren't any fights - any times when people walked out," he said. The negotiable issues included salary, benefits and working conditions, particularly increasing from two to three the weekly 45-minute planning periods for elementary school teachers.

The contract will cost the school system about $17 million more each year for the next two years, school officials said.

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