The Howard County teachers union has ratified a tentative agreement with the county Board of Education, officials from both sides said Tuesday.
The Howard County Education Association, which also represents counselors, interpreters and secretaries, voted "overwhelmingly" to ratify the agreement, according to a statement.
The tentative agreement, which had been reached June 30, must now be ratified by the school board in August. If ratified, the HCEA would be last of the four unions in the school system to finalize an agreement.
School officials said that under the tentative agreement, eligible HCEA employees will receive the equivalent of a half-step pay increment in fiscal year 2012, amounting to an average pay increase of about 1.5 percent.
The second half of the step would be provided at the start of fiscal year 2013. The tentative agreements do not include cost-of-living adjustments.
Schools superintendent Sydney Cousin said in a statement that the agreement avoids layoffs and furloughs due in part to cost-saving measures by the school system.
In the statement, HCEA president Paul Lemle lauded the collaborative effort during tough economic times.