Howard school board signs new contract with teachers union

The Howard County Board of Education signed a new agreement with teachers at its meeting Thursday, Sept. 12.

New contracts were signed with the Howard County Education Association-Education Support Professionals and the Howard County Education Association, the union which represents county teachers.

“Both (agreements) were difficult to reach, but they were worth the extra time and dedication to task,” HCEA President Paul Lemle said. “This is reflected in the support of more than 93 percent of our members.”

Negotiations between the board and the union went throughout the summer, several weeks past the June 30 deadline.

Under the HCEA agreement, employees represented by the teachers union will receive a full-step salary increase this fiscal year, which started July 1. The agreement also includes more flexible bereavement and sick leave, better tuition reimbursement and on-the-job accommodations for breastfeeding mothers.

Lemle applauded the accomplishments the new contract represents, but said a lingering poor economy and increase in taxes, health care and pension costs, without a similar increase in salary to reflect cost-of-living, indicates that “education has been an unfortunate and unnecessary casualty of the recession.”

Still, Lemle said, the agreement is one to be celebrated.

“You have the association’s unwavering commitment to improving it even further as we begin (next year’s negotiations) Nov. 1,” he said.

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