Education Notes

EDUCATION NOTES

June 26, 2005

Extra Aug. payday due for teachers and secretaries

Anne Arundel County teachers, secretaries and instructional assistants who elect to receive "summer reserve" pay will receive an extra paycheck in August to account for a quirk of the calendar this year.

Under union contracts, employees who work 10 months can choose to have the school system withhold money and issue four paychecks during the summer, making 26 pay periods annually. Human resources director Florie Bozzella said 5,004 teachers and other workers take advantage of the program.

This year employers have 27 pay periods for employees paid every other week. But, because contracts dictate that only 26 paychecks can be issued, teachers would go nearly a month between their last summer check on Aug. 18 and their first paycheck of the next school year on Sept. 14.

At the last school board meeting, members voted to allow teachers to take $500 or $1,000 loans to help them until the Sept. 14 check arrives.

Leaders of the county teachers union told board members at the meeting that they would waive the negotiated number of pay periods so that the summer reserve could be divided among five checks instead of four. Sheila M. Finlayson, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, said members didn't like the loan option.

"People were upset," she said. "We had hundreds of calls."

Because 26 paychecks were part of the contract "we never considered going to 27 pays," Bozzella said. "We only looked at a solution to try to bridge that gap for them, which was loans."

Human resources staff members will manually adjust each affected employee's records to distribute the summer reserve in five paychecks rather than four. The fifth paycheck will go out Aug. 31.

Board President Edward P. Carey said board members suggested dividing the reserve over five checks but were told by staff members that it wasn't possible.

"There were some people who aren't happy that we were kind of led down the garden path," he said.

School system revises student conduct code

A revised Code of Student Conduct for Anne Arundel County's public schools calls for longer expulsions and includes new descriptions and expectations for acceptable behavior on buses and for using the Internet.

Some of the changes, such as increasing the length of expulsions from up to 18 weeks to as much as 36 weeks, stemmed from responses to a recent survey of families, students and staff members about school safety.

About 80 percent of students said they felt safe in their classrooms, down from 89 percent last year. The situation was particularly apparent among 11th-graders, 74 percent of whom reporting feeling safe, compared with 82 last year.

The code also requires parents, guardians and students to sign an agreement indicating that they understand acceptable use of Internet resources in schools. It also spells out expectations of students who take school buses and punishments for students who do not abide by them.

Copies of the revised code are available on the Board of Education's section of the school system's Web site, www.aacps.org. They will take effect in the fall.

Pasadena student wins prize in AACC survey

Lauren Grande of Pasadena has won the $300 Best Buy gift card as a prize awarded at random to an AACC student completing the online Noel Levitz student satisfaction survey.

The survey, conducted at the beginning of the spring semester, asked students about college and what was important to them. The survey serves as a tool to help the college improve the quality of student life and learning.

Calendar

Bay camp:

The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center will hold an environmental science day camp tomorrow through Friday for children in kindergarten to fifth grade to have fun outdoors and learn about the wetlands. Activities include canoeing, global positioning work, oyster dissections, seining and fishing workshops. Camp is held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 600 Discovery Lane, Grasonville. Financial aid is available. 410-827-6694.

Career coach:

The YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County offers individual career coaching for women. Coaches are available by telephone or in person, and the fee for this service begins at $40 on a sliding scale. 410-626-7800, Ext. 207.

Weed Warrior Days:

Patuxent Wildlife Refuge conducts "Weed Warrior Days" periodically to limit the growth of non-native plants in the wildlife habitat. The next weed day is scheduled for 10 a.m. July 10. Participants should meet at the National Wildlife Visitor's Center, 10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop, Laurel. Participants should wear long pants and sleeves, and bring gloves and hand tools. 301-497-5886.

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