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News from around the Baltimore region

June 15, 2005

BALTIMORE COUNTY

School board expected to OK Hairston's raise

The Baltimore County school board was expected to vote last night on a proposal to give Superintendent Joe A. Hairston a 4 percent raise, amending his contract so that each year he would receive the same percentage raise as the county's teachers, the school board president said.

The raise, which would correspond with a 4 percent increase for county teachers already budgeted for next school year, would bring Hairston's salary to $239,200.

School board President James R. Sasiadek said the raise is to reward Hairston for the progress the 108,000-student system has made under hisleadership since 2000.

Last year, the board renewed Hairston's contract through 2008 and gave him a $45,000 raise, boosting his salary to $230,000 a year. The contract allowed the school board to give Hairston raises if he receives positive annual evaluations.

Under the proposed amendment to the contract, Hairston would get a raise only when the county's 8,000 teachers do.

Also last night, the school board approved the calendar for the 2006-2007 school year without including days off for two important Muslim holidays.

The Muslim community has lobbied for the past two school years for the board to close school on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Board members Michael P. Kennedy and Luis E. Borunda and student board member Nicholas P. Camp abstained.

Before the meeting, about a half-dozen Muslims holding U.S. flags and signs stood outside, where they were questioned by a county police officer.

"I'm on public property and I have the right to demonstrate peacefully," said Muhammad Jameel, one of the group's leaders. "I'm not aware of any law that I'm breaking."

The state school board has previously denied an appeal from the group over the county school board not recognizing Muslim holidays in the 2005-2006 school year calendar.

--- Sara Neufeld

WESTMINSTER

After two-year absence,Pecoraro back on council

After a two-year hiatus, Gregory Pecoraro has returned as a member of the Westminster Common Council. The former councilman won an appointment to the five-member panel by a unanimous vote Monday and was sworn in immediately.

Pecoraro, 46, came in third in the May 9 municipal election, when two council seats were available.

Pecoraro served eight years on the council until resigning to become chief of staff to Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. two years ago. He is vice president of National Strategies Inc. in Washington. --- Mary Gail Hare

SYKESVILLE

Finksburg company awarded $7 million roads contract

Sykesville has awarded a $7 million contract to a Finksburg company to build a new intersection along Route 32 to improve traffic flow into a cluster of one-time Springfield Hospital Center buildings that the town is renovating into a business and academic complex.

Kibler Construction's proposal, the lowest of three bids, includes construction, improvements to existing roadways and the removal of portions of town roads that connect to the highway. The state will pay $5.74 million of the cost, with Carroll County and Episcopal Ministries to the Aging, which owns adjoining property, contributing the remainder. The project will be complete in about18 months.

The contract calls for construction of an intersection with signals at Route 32 north of Cooper Drive, where the town is renovating the Warfield Corporate and Culture Center. The highway will be four lanes for about a half-mile before and after the intersection. --- Mary Gail Hare

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