Board to study teacher salaries

Workshop planned

union doubts need for panel, report

October 21, 2005|By CHRIS YAKAITIS AND ANICA BUTLER | CHRIS YAKAITIS AND ANICA BUTLER,SUN REPORTERS

The Anne Arundel County school board has agreed to hold a workshop on a proposal to raise teacher salaries, including a discussion of the financial ramifications.

The heads of the teacher salary survey committee presented a study Wednesday that shows teacher pay lags behind pay in several nearby school systems and offered three options to change that, at costs ranging from $2.1 million to more than $5.9 million next fiscal year.

The salary committee said low salaries in the county hurt teacher recruitment and retention, reducing the school system's competitiveness in the job market and draining the schools of experienced senior faculty.

Board member Eugene Peterson said he needed more information.

He said the lack of salary increases in the mid-1990s, balanced against inflation and other factors, cost teachers much more buying power than the study indicates. "That presentation didn't give us any real indication of that," he said.

Beyond agreeing that the workshop and further discussion are needed, other board members had few comments on the report. The school system is negotiating a multiyear contract with teachers.

An associate superintendent said the purpose of the committee was to provide information to the board members as they negotiate with the union. Union representatives, despite serving on the committee, have said they do not necessarily agree with the study's findings.

Bill Jones, executive director of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, questioned using a task force to provide data that already are available.

"The work we in the committee accomplished is not significantly different than the research we do to support the bargaining process," said Jones, who was a member of the committee. "While the committee's work was credible and competent, it was unnecessary. The problem with our salary scales is not the result of the bargaining process gone awry, but rather the result of the underfunding already mentioned."

A consultant was paid $7,500 to work with the salary committee, a district spokesman said.

Start times

In public comments at Wednesday's meeting, discussion focused on the starting time for the school day. Several local PTA representatives and students from Broadneck High School argued for a later start at high schools, which now start at 7:17 a.m.

"The current times are not only affecting our education, but our attitudes," said Alyssa Kaminski, 15, of Arnold, who appeared with five Broadneck classmates. "Five to seven hours [of sleep] is hard to act on when a teenager is supposed to receive up to 10 hours of sleep."

At a meeting this month, board members received a report on options for starting times. Though it was the second such report drawn up, board members asked to see more options, and some said more information and discussion would be needed.

anica.butler@baltsun.com chris.yakaitis@baltsun.com

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