Pay raises possible, O'Rourke notes

Increases for top aides could occur after other school system salaries set

January 15, 2002|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

As Howard County school board members ponder next year's proposed operating budget, Superintendent John R. O'Rourke is leaving the door open for pay raises for himself and top aides.

Patti Caplan, spokeswoman for the school district, said yesterday that O'Rourke wants it known that although the budget proposal does not currently include salary increases for officials and key administrators, it might.

An article in The Sun on Friday said that O'Rourke is forgoing raises for himself and key aides in anticipation of one of the tightest economies in recent years. That report was based on O'Rourke having said last week that the preliminary budget he was releasing included no provision for raises for himself or senior staff members.

But the superintendent said yesterday that it is premature to draw any conclusion from that.

"I haven't even gotten to that yet," O'Rourke said. "Negotiations are in process, and I won't even think about it until after that process is over."

O'Rourke unveiled his proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2003 on Thursday. Although the preliminary budget is $20 million more than last year's, the $389.6 million proposal does not include raises for teachers or other school system employees because those groups are in the middle of contract negotiations.

O'Rourke said he generally waits until negotiations are over before considering pay raises for himself and his staff because "anything that we put in beforehand could conceivably prejudice the negotiations process."

O'Rourke said yesterday that any possible raises for top officials would account for a small portion of the total budget increase.

"It's not of great consequence in the context of the overall budget," he said.

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