Anne Arundel school board approves teachers' raises

The Anne Arundel County school board approved raises Wednesday for teachers union employees, providing funds for a 2013 fiscal year budget proposal that county officials had struck down.

The school board approved a 1.25 percent increase, the first raise since 2008, officials said. The increase will start to take effect midway through the school year.

Superintendent Kevin Maxwell had proposed to county officials a $986.2 million fiscal year 2013 operating budget that included $33.8 million to cover negotiated agreements with all four bargaining units.

But County Executive John Leopold refused to include funding for the raises as part of the budget proposal he sent to the County Council, which also declined to fund them. The budget was adopted in June, and school officials have been renegotiating with its bargaining units to amend its compensation agreements.

Anne Arundel schools Chief Operating Officer Alex Szachnowicz said the pay increases will cost $2.4 million and will come from the school budget via employee turnover and reallocations.

The board approved the measure 7-2, with board members Amalie Brandenburg and Kevin Jackson voting against it.

"The County Council did not support raises for anyone in the county, including firefighters, police officers and all other county employees," said Brandenburg. "I believe a pay increase is warranted and necessary, however, not at this time. If we include a pay increase for [the teachers union], all other bargaining units will request the same, as they should, and I have a concern as to how this would be funded."

Board President Andrew Pruski said that the increase was deserved.

"In terms of what the [pay raises] will do, gas prices and all sorts of other things are going up," Pruski said. "We're not talking about something that's going to be a huge increase in terms of retirement, health care costs, and there are taxes taken out of that money."

In addition, the school system said it also agreed to shorten teachers' work year by two days and will cover their health care premiums in December.

The Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County ratified the agreement Tuesday, school officials said. Bill Jones, executive director of the association, said that not all of its employees will receive raises at the same time.

"What's going to happen is that we're going to count the number of pay periods that the employees have and halfway through those pay periods, they will get their raises," said Jones.

The school board also unanimously approved a $240 million capital budget for next fiscal year that provides $135 million for renovation projects at 11 schools, $11 million for additions to cover full-day kindergarten and prekindergarten programs, and $9 million for open-space classroom enclosures.

And on Thursday, the school system said that a committee of parents, community residents and school officials will consider redistricting options for Nantucket, Crofton, Crofton Meadows, and Crofton Woods elementary schools. The committee will hold an organizational meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at Nantucket Elementary and hold additional meetings in October.

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