Sky is not falling on Carroll schools
Although the teacher's union wants the public to believe that all of Carroll County's public school teachers are miserable, the reality is most teachers remain dedicated to their students and are not working-to-rule.
Although a few remain outside in their cars, teachers at all schools continue coming in early and leaving late just as they always have -- and I thank each one for their dedication and patience.
The majority of teachers understand that the lack of funding from county, state, and federal levels has limited our ability to meet all system needs. They realize the impact of opening six schools in six years while continuing to meet increases in salaries and other fixed costs.
Hal Fox described the school board's budget decisions as one of choosing "air or water" and he is right.
The choice: Meet the union's demands or spend dollars for technology and other instructional supports.
The union's work-action symbolizes its criticism of the board for choosing to spread community tax dollars among costs for salaries, additional teaching positions to address the growth of our student body and reduce class sizes to meet the needs of our students.
Even though Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS) are seeing hard times financially, salaries remain competitive.
The starting teacher salary is $33,100 ($33,700 after the 2 percent increase in February) and the average 10-month teacher salary today is $48,380. Over the last two years, each teacher received a 10 percent to 18 percent raise, with another 6 percent increase in base salary after the second year.
CCPS offers the best health-care package in the state. Up until last year, CCPS absorbed all increases to health insurance premiums.
Currently, professional employees pay approximately $350 annually for family coverage (5 percent of the premium). The major medical plan is a 90-10 plan with a $2,000 maximum out-of-pocket expenses for family coverage.
Its unfortunate union leadership continues to stir the pot of discontent. Their miscommunication regarding the tentative agreement, which clearly was contingent upon the county fully funding the school system's budget, has caused great anguish.
The issue regarding paying teachers for extra duties is a matter for negotiation, which the Carroll County Education Association's negotiating team should have put on the bargaining table during its eight-month collective-bargaining process. As for changes to benefits, these were agreed to by the union's negotiating team and ratified by its membership.
The truth is most employees within our school system and community appreciate the board's efforts in bringing the focus back into our classrooms and on student achievement.
Today, phonics is used, there are more textbooks, we know the reading level of each elementary and middle school student, our CTBS scores are increasing and the SAT scores are the best they have been in 25 years.
We are working to challenge all levels of learner, end social promotion and provide remediation to ensure that no child is left behind.
Our school system is respected not only in state but national circles. We are proud that several teachers, students, schools, supervisors and our board have been nationally recognized.
Those working throughout our school system take great pride in their work and are appreciated for the efforts they put forth.
The sky is not falling, and we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Although we may encounter another tight year and tough choices ahead, the board will continue to do all it can to help its employees meet the demands of their professions.
Our community wants quality education for our students therefore we must all come together to insure it.
The writer is vice president of the Carroll County Board of Education.
Article inaccurate, delegate complains
Childs Walker's profile portrayed me accurately as a passionate conservative ("Candidates look to the right for winning strategy," Oct. 27), but he erred by stating that I had called Democrat foes "traitors, crooks, liars and conspirators."
In fact, I have not called anyone those names, and evidently The Sun chose those words based on me writing in an opinion piece that the governor had "misrepresented" a law and that an "illegal" maneuver of the rules was pulled.
The Sun has done a disservice to me and to my constituents. As a former journalist, I have an excellent command of the English language. And as a delegate for Carroll County, I have always spoken in a statesman-like manner.
Those words have never come from my mouth toward anyone.
As a matter of fact, those who know me best will affirm that in my family there are two words that are absolutely forbidden: "liar" and "hate."
The writer is a Republican member of the Maryland House of Delegates.
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