Carroll County Public Schools educators rallied before the most recent Board of Education meeting, demanding higher pay. One reason for their demand was because of how CCPS compares to other counties in terms of teacher compensation.
Data from the Maryland State Department of Education shows Carroll’s starting salary is the second-lowest of all the Central Maryland districts. And Carroll has the lowest maximum salary for the same districts.
According to MSDE’s professional salary schedules for the 2020-2021 school year, the starting salary for a Carroll teacher with a bachelor’s degree and on step one is $48,000. Anne Arundel’s is $47,836, Baltimore City is $51,552, Baltimore County is $49,967, Harford is $50,148 and Howard is $48,519.
The maximum salary for Carroll teachers, which MSDE says is for those with doctorates, is $92,670. It’s $102,191 for Anne Arundel, $109,463 for Baltimore City, $104,813 for Baltimore County, $95,434 for Harford and $104,874 for Howard.
Charles County, with a similar enrollment number to Carroll, has a starting salary of $49,751 for teachers, according to MSDE, and a maximum salary of $93,565. Washington County, also similar in enrollment size, has a starting salary of $55,174 and a maximum of $87,287.
The Carroll County Education Association (CCEA) has been negotiating its contract with the school system since February. The union filed a request for impasse declaration with the Public School Labor Relations Board, or PSLRB, since both sides could not reach an agreement.
Along with higher salaries, Carroll educators also called for step increases during their rally last week. Ryan Heilman, chief negotiator for CCEA, said “theoretically” a step is equal to the years working in the school system. Step one goes to brand new teachers and teachers who’ve been there for one year, for example.
“The problem is a step is not a guarantee,” he said. “It should be but it’s not. That’s been a difficult issue with Carroll County.”
He said they have to be negotiated. And there was a time in the past, during the recession, when no steps were given. Seven years to be exact, Heilman said. And between 2010 and 2018, Carroll’s school system lost $40 million cumulative in state funding.
Heilman said those steps were lost as collateral and the reason why Carroll’s steps are not equivalent to other counties. He used his salary as an example. He’s been with CCPS for 17 years but is on step 10. His salary is $68,225 and he said he’s making $14,000 less since Carroll’s step 17 for educators with a Master’s degree and 30 or more credits is $82,386.
He said he lives in Baltimore County and if he chose to work for their school system, assuming they are on track with their steps, he’d make $80,174. He also compared it with Montgomery County Public Schools who would give someone with his experience $101,905 at step 17. Even those at step 10 would receive $80,000.
Tony Roman, a teacher at Manchester Valley High School, asked school board members during the June 9 meeting to fulfill CCEA’s negotiation request so staff can feel appreciated given that he and other educators say the discrepancy in pay between Carroll and nearby counties is leading to an exodus.
”I’ve gotten too many emails from teachers telling me goodbye. That they are tired of not being appreciated and they’re not going to be returning,” he said. “And we’re going to lose a lot of good teachers at the end of this year either to retirement or to say they are not returning here, either they’re looking for another job or they’re going to go somewhere else to teach because they’re not feeling appreciated. That should not be happening.”
Board Member Donna Sivigny said at the last school board meeting, the day educators rallied outside central office, the board has provided a 23% increase in the last five years to the Carroll County Education Association.
Superintendent Steve Lockard said last week they have received a step increment each year for those five years and cost of living increases for four of the five years. He also noted the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will bring significant changes to teacher pay over the next decade. The system is also due to receive $1 million as one-time funds to go to non-administrative employee groups.
Lockard noted at the time he valued the work of educators and are appreciative of their hard work.
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Heilman said in the past, he remembers the system said the steps were frozen due to the recession and other financial responsibilities. He also noted employee compensation was also the most amount of money spent from the budget every year. However, teachers are calling for their steps back, he said.