Harford council fails to reconsider teacher bonuses

By not doing anything, the Harford County Council opted Tuesday not to reconsider the teacher bonuses that County Executive David Craig vetoed in December.

No one made a move to reconsider the line item vetoed by Craig, which would have given $625 to Harford County Public Schools teachers, half of the 2011 bonus the executive originally offered.

County Council President Billy Boniface noted this kind of situation "doesn't happen very often" and explained the county executive vetoed the council's request to put money toward the board of education. Reconsidering the line item would have required five votes for approval, and was not open for debate, Boniface said.

He said every other aspect of this bill has been approved, and that maybe if Harford County Education Association came to some resolution with the county council, the issue would be reconsidered. HCEA represents 3,200 teachers and guidance counselors.

All the other unions representing public school system employees approved the bonuses and those staff received their payments before the Christmas break.

Legislative liaison Nancy Giorno said a new bill could be introduced if something changes.

Boniface also told Giorno: "It's our understanding that you'll be coming to the council with future legislation so we can reimburse the school system for money they paid out."

Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti said she felt compelled to justify her lack of action and explained no one on the council had any desire to affect the ongoing negotiation dispute between the unions and the school system.

"I think the outcome is not only disappointing but regrettable to all of us," she said, adding she hopes the parties involved in the dispute can go back to the table and find a way to resolve their conflict.

On Thursday, Randy Cerveny, president of Harford County Education Association, said he still hopes to work out negotiations with the school system.

"I do know that we have until March 31 to get this resolved," he said, citing the deadline in the original bill until the bonuses are canceled.

Cerveny said he remains committed to HCEA's position and had no other response to county council members.

"They know what our position is, that we believe this has to be negotiated," he said.

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