Carroll school board, unions agree to 3 percent pay raises

Workers would pay more for health care

May 30, 2002|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Carroll County school officials have reached tentative agreements with unions representing about 2,800 employees that would raise salaries 3 percent for each of the next two years while requiring employees to pay more of ballooning health care costs.

Whether the tentative agreements will be approved by unions representing the school system's teachers, administrators, support staff and service workers depends largely on the county commissioners' final budget allocations.

A public hearing on the county's budget is scheduled at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the public hearing room of the County Office Building on North Center Street in Westminster.

"There were hard negotiations on both sides to get to this agreement and we're obviously hoping we can fund it," said Stephen Guthrie, the school system's human resources director.

The Carroll County school system has traditionally had one of the least expensive health insurance plans, a perk that recruiters have considered something of a phantom benefit.

While school employees across Maryland have paid up to 12 percent of their health insurance premiums, or $4,000 a year for family coverage, Carroll employees pay no more than 5 percent, or $1,000 a year for family health coverage.

Carroll's professional employees, including teachers, administrators and central office staff, pay 5 percent of insurance premiums while custodians, maintenance workers, food service employees, clerical staff and instructional assistants pay 2 percent.

School board President Susan W. Krebs has called the benefits package "a Cadillac plan" that many employees do not fully appreciate and that prospective employees do not consider as heavily as salary offers.

If the bargaining agreements are approved, all school employees would pay 5 percent of their annual premiums plus half of future health insurance cost increases. For example, if the school system's health insurance costs increase by $1 million, the system's employees collectively would cover about $500,000 of that.

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