Tentative deal reached on teacher pay

Budget cuts, surplus funds to cover $2 million cost

Agreement calls for 1% increase

Discussions began in June after work-to-rule step

Anne Arundel

October 05, 2003|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County's teachers union announced Friday that it has reached a tentative agreement for all teachers to receive small cost-of-living increases this year, the second pay raise for educators since they protested a proposed wage freeze.

The agreement, which must be ratified next month by the union's 4,100 members, calls for the teachers to receive a 1 percent cost-of-living increase for the second half of this budget year.

For some employees, the raises would take effect in January; for others, in February, said Sheila M. Finlayson, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County.

School officials will offer the same raises to other school employees, said Oscar Davis, the school system's director of employee relations. The raises would cost about $2 million for the current fiscal year, he said. The money is available as a result of small budget cuts and leftover funding from last year, he said.

"We continuously wanted to do something," Davis said.

This is the second year of a two-year agreement between the school board and the teachers. That agreement called for teachers to receive their standard step - or time-of-service - raises and a 3 percent cost-of-living increase this year.

But the contract is tied to the school system receiving adequate funding from the county and state. Earlier this year, County Executive Janet S. Owens did not fund school officials' budget request for the money needed to provide raises.

Teachers responded with a work-to-rule campaign, in which many of them left immediately after the school day's final bell.

The school board then reallocated money within its budget and restored time-of-service raises in June. It also began renegotiating other salary terms. The agreement announced Friday resulted from those negotiations, Finlayson said.

"We have had some successes," Finlayson said. "I hope our members are pleased at what we did."

This summer, the Teamsters union began courting dissatisfied Anne Arundel teachers. Finlayson said that, according to surveys that teachers completed this summer, they are not interested in switching to Teamster union leadership.

The school board receives funding from the state and county. County officials said Friday that they had expected Superintendent Eric J. Smith to provide teachers any additional money that he could.

County Councilwoman Cathleen M. Vitale, a Severna Park Republican, said Friday that she has no problem with the pay-raise agreement, as long as school officials don't come to the county late in the fiscal year looking for more money.

"I'm going to hold them to their promise," she said, "that they won't be back for a fourth-quarter transfer."

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