Trying to keep veteran teachers, Baltimore County schools Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione proposed yesterday a $681 million spending plan for 1999-2000 that includes substantial pay raises for teachers with more than 15 years' experience.
The budget -- which seeks a 5.6 percent increase -- includes a plan to give $3,500 stipends to 100 experienced teachers to work in lower-performing schools that suffer from high staff turnover.
"The presence of experienced and highly skilled teachers in every classroom is very important to continuous school improvement," Marchione said. "Our hope is to keep our experienced teachers as long as possible."
The move to keep those educators from leaving the system or retiring comes as state and national surveys suggest an impending shortage of teachers. While Baltimore County's pay for beginning teachers has improved in recent years, salaries for veteran teachers have slipped behind many other systems.
"We've been pushing the concept of restructuring the salaries for experienced teachers, and we're glad to see that they agree with that concept," said Mark Beytin, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County. "It should be an incentive for getting people to stay."
Other highlights of Marchione's proposed $36 million budget increase include 45 federally funded teachers to reduce class sizes in some beginning reading classes.
The reading teachers "will be assigned to those schools where there is a significant gap between the achievement of minority students and other students in the school," Marchione said.
The budget features pay raises for substitute teachers and principals to make their salaries more competitive with surrounding school systems.
In all, Marchione seeks to add 100 positions for 1999-2000, including 10 elementary guidance counselors, 20 special education instructional assistants, and 10 teachers and two psychologists to expand a program aimed at helping students before they're labeled for special education.
Doubles this year's figure
The spending plan nearly doubles the modest 3 percent increase that the school system received this year. Because student enrollment is expected to remain virtually unchanged next fall, state law requires that the county and state increase the system's budget by at least $7 million. Most of the $36 million increase is expected to come from the county.
Marchione's requested budget increase is less than the percentage increases sought in other area school systems. However, he is seeking far more in school construction money, because the county's many aging schools need repairs.
Anne Arundel County's superintendent has proposed a 12 percent spending increase, the superintendent in Howard County is seeking a 7.4 percent increase and Carroll County's superintendent wants an 8 percent budget boost.
Four-year salary plan
The biggest portion of the Baltimore County budget increase is the four-year, $22 million plan to improve the salary structure for experienced teachers. Slightly more than half of the salary package will come in the 1999-2000 budget.
The school system is negotiating with employee unions on the specifics of the agreements.
Teachers with less than 14 years of experience would receive salary increases between 1.5 percent and 4 percent next year, and those with more experience would receive raises of as much as 6 percent. By the end of the four years, some experienced teachers will see their salaries increase as much as 12.7 percent.
For example, a 24-year teaching veteran with a master's degree and 30 additional credits of study would see a salary increase next fall from $52,810 to $56,012. By the fourth year, that same teacher would be making at least $60,855.
The experienced teachers would be eligible to receive any cost-of-living increases negotiated during the second, third and fourth years of the agreement, according to school budget officials.
Would create incentives
In addition to boosting salaries of older teachers, Marchione said he wants to create a $350,000 Education Excellence in Teaching incentive to put 100 master teachers in schools that have high staff turnover, giving each a $3,500 annual bonus.
"High turnover of experienced teachers has been particularly problematic in some of our schools," Marchione said.
The superintendent expects that 20 to 30 schools at all levels would qualify for the program. As a way to reduce staff turnover, the system operates a mentor program which puts experienced teachers in schools with high turnover to support beginning teachers.
Under the budget proposal, nonteaching employees would receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase next year -- totaling $2.2 million. As previously announced, $500,000 has been designated to increase substitute teachers' pay to $47 a day for substitutes without college degrees and $55 for those with degrees.
Marchione has designated $1.7 million to improve the salaries of administrative and supervisory positions. He said the county's salaries for school administrators have slipped and are the 11th highest in the state.
Other major changes
Other significant changes proposed in next year's budget include: Adding eight positions to support career and technology programs and five positions to support special education instruction at the alternative schools. The system would spend $190,000 to purchase modern equipment and upgrade facilities for the career and technology program, including a mobile "agri-science" laboratory.
Expanding the school resource officer program from two high schools to eight high schools. The county Police Department would pay for the officers, who serve as members of the school's staff, teach classes, get to know students and provide security.
Spending $750,000 to begin a five-year, $3 million plan to replace aging musical instruments. Some high schools report using tubas and drums held together with duct tape.
Continuing the system's five-year technology plan by spending $4.8 million on computer networks in schools. By the end of 1999-2000, all of the county's high schools and all but three of its middle schools would be upgraded.
Spending $1 million to purchase an elementary math textbooks series and textbooks to support a new geometry curriculum. The money would be separate from the standard textbook allotments given to all schools. Some of the money would go to biology and secondary-reading books.
Pub Date: 1/27/99