Teachers reach tentative settlement


Two more Carroll County unions have tentatively settled labor negotiations with the Board of Education for two-year contracts with 3 percent pay raises each year.

"I'm pleased with the contract," said Cynthia Cummings, president of the teachers union. "I'm very pleased with the increase in planning time for elementary teachers."

The teachers settled their contract Tuesday. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which represents custodians, trade workers, bus drivers and other related workers, settled Monday.

Both contracts are expected to be ratified by the unions within the next month, officials said.

Jerry Spratt, president of the local AFSCME union, said negotiations went smoothly and that the union was happy to get added pay increases for skilled technicians who complete certifications for licenses, such as master plumbers and electricians.

The Association of Public School Administrators and Supervisors of Carroll County was the first to settle on a contract last month, also for the equivalent of a 3 percent pay increase for the two years. The administrators modified the distribution of their raises, however, by taking 2 a percent increase in the first year but adding a longevity step for members who had completed 25 years.

The Carroll Association of School Employees and the Carroll County Schools Food Service Workers still are negotiating with the board.

Although those two groups are discussing issues such as working conditions and other details, they are almost certain to get the same 3 percent raise. Historically, the school board offers the same financial package to all five groups and uses the same standard for pay raises for nonunion secretaries and administrators.

Teachers already have the increase in planning time, but not in writing.

The new agreement with the Carroll County Education Association will say that elementary teachers are guaranteed at least 225 minutes per week for planning, such as when their students are in art or physical education classes. The current contract said they were to get 200 minutes, but in practice the teachers got between 225 and 245 minutes a week.

"I think [the new contract language] had a significant meaning . . . that it was giving written recognition along with the verbal recognition," said Ms. Cummings, who taught at Charles Carroll Elementary School before she was elected president of her union.

Harold Fox, the teachers' chief negotiator, said the school board and the teachers agree the planning time is important.

"The fact is, people are putting in the time after school and on weekends," he said. "And they [school officials] want them to put in the time, because the kids need it."

The new agreement increases reimbursements to teachers for post-graduate work. They will get reimbursed for up to nine credits a year -- up from six credits -- and the lifetime limit for credits was removed.

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