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Leopold spars with Arundel superintendent over teacher pay

Local GovernmentJohn R Leopold

Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold urged the County Council on Friday to reject Schools Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell's plan to give $5.5 million in pay raises to county teachers, saying it's untenable for teachers to get raises while most county employees get furloughed.

The County Council approved $936.8 million in operating funds last month for the school system — $6.3 million less than it provided last year — and it did not include Maxwell's request for the pay increases, which a school system representative said are in accordance with a mediated labor settlement.

But the school board can move money around as part of the budget process, and on Wednesday adopted a budget that made several cuts — including the loss of 26 positions, $1.27 million in health care funding and $1 million in textbook funding — to make room for the 1 percent pay increase. There were no layoffs.

In a letter to Council Chairman Richard Ladd, Leopold requested a public hearing on the issue.

"The actions by the Board of Education … are inequitable," said Leopold. "We have an obligation to share the sacrifices made in this difficult economy equally."

Bob Mosier, a spokesman for Maxwell, called it "absolutely misleading" that school system employees will see a pay increase this year over last year because the 1 percent increase was budgeted last year and was just instituted this year.

"The equity argument didn't apply in fiscal year 2010, when we didn't give any raises, and we furloughed some employees for four days," said Mosier. "And they gave 3 percent raises to their people."

Ladd said he will consider Leopold's request after reviewing the school system's budget actions.

"I have nothing against giving teachers a pay raise," said Ladd, a Republican."But I do have a problem giving teachers a pay raise when I put everyone in the county out on furlough."

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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