Cerveny also thanked the board for going back to the negotiating table for salary increases.

"I know our differences overall aren't great when it comes to public education," Cerveny said. "Teachers will be able to do a little bit more personally with this commitment."

The HCEA added that hopefully with this action teachers in the county won't want to find work in other jurisdictions.

"This is not over yet," Cerveny said, clarifying the statement wasn't a threat, but rather an acknowledgment that prioritizing public education isn't over and done with. "We need commitment from all of us working together to fund education to the level it needs to be."


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North Harford Middle School teacher George Curry thanked the board for its efforts "in this difficult task."

Along with that gratitude, however, Curry said there is "quite a bit of nervousness that goes with that."

Curry's family was affected by the tornado that ripped through Fallston almost two weeks ago, he said, and averting tragedy "makes you pause and take account of the things in your life."

The teacher noted that he has seen the relationship between the board and teachers go from "strained" to almost "litigious."

"Time heals," Curry said. "I sincerely hope, as many of us do, that the actions today are a step in healing the wounds."

Amy Childs, who held her young son in her arms while speaking to the board, said her husband lost his business "when the economy turned down and we're living on my salary."

Because of the salary freezes, Childs continued, "I can't afford to start him [her son] in pre-school."

She went on to say, "I appreciate with my whole heart the step that you all have made today," referring to the board, "but 1 percent [increase] is $20 that doesn't fill my gas tank to go to work."

Later in the meeting, the board approved amendments to its fiscal year 2013 budget that would balance the county funding level, revised negotiated wages and the unrestricted budget of $427,768,507.

Jim Jewell, assistant superintendent of business services, explained to the board that the adjustments were a result of $5 million in shifted teacher pension costs that HCPS will absorb and revised revenue figures.

Some adjustments that will be made to the budget are the elimination of 72 positions, and a reduction of more than $6 million in operating and salary expenditures in the board's unrestricted budget.

Board member Bob Frisch expressed concerns with eliminating so many positions.

While he understood that to come up with the compensation package there needed to be budget adjustments, Frisch said, "The reality is a significant portion is tied to employee salaries and benefits."

Frisch added that the problem with eliminating classroom positions is that those jobs "are likely [to] never return" and a probable result would be an increase in class sizes.

He then made a motion to eliminate the full-time positions of classroom mentors and replace them with contractual positions at an annual salary of no more than $40,000 each.

Superintendent Robert Tomback and another school system employee pointed out that the school system is required to have mentors for teachers in their first three years of teaching and there could be legal issues with HCEA.

Board member Alysson Krchnavy commented that as a long-term substitute she personally benefited from a mentor teacher and their services were "invaluable."

Fellow board member James Thornton was also wary of any legal issues that could come out of turning the full-time positions into contractual.

Ultimately, Frisch's motion was defeated and the budget amendments, including elimination of positions, were part of the package.