More teacher protests planned this week

More of Harford County's public school teachers plan to take action this week in protest of a lack of raises and an added-on day to the school year

Harford County Education Association President Randy Cerveny said Tuesday that educators at about two dozen county schools will observe the "working to contract" policy Wednesday and Thursday, with picketing after they are dismissed for the day.

Several schools have started following the policy, which has teachers starting and ending their day when their contracts specify rather than coming in early and/or staying late.

Also today, Cerveny added, teachers will picket along Route 152 outside of Youth's Benefit Elementary School in Fallston.

Youth's Benefit has also been in the spotlight recently.

An air-conditioning system was approved for the school by Harford's board of education in May, despite pleas from the organization Build It Now — comprised of Youth's Benefit parents and other community members — to forego the project and save the money to build an entirely new building.

In another form of protest, teachers will hold a rally Monday outside Bel Air High School, then attend the school board meeting at 7 p.m. at the A. A. Roberty Building.

Cerveny also e-mailed a letter to the editor for publication in The Aegis.

In the letter, Cerveny continues to press the need for public education funding and further explained the reasoning behind the protests.

"Teachers are currently not asking for a 'raise,' as such," Cerveny writes. "They are asking that the contract they signed when they took a job in Harford County be honored!"

He also goes into what a typical day for a teacher is like: "Many additional hours of preparation are needed to meet the needs of classrooms of students with varying abilities and needs. In addition to the hours that a teacher is face to face with students, they must study curriculum, review student data, plan lessons, prepare activities and grade papers. Many spend extra hours providing tutoring, counseling and coaching."

Time spent at additional jobs to pay household expenses, Cerveny continues, "takes time away from preparation for students, after school activities and in-depth assessment of student work."

Without step increases or cost of living raises, he states, "How can we expect Harford County to be a top choice for new teachers?"

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