Angry that a proposed budget for the coming school year does not seek an across-the-board pay raise, about 200 Baltimore County teachers packed a public hearing last night to ask the school board to add an increase for them.
County schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston's proposed $1.18 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 includes a request for about $12 million to pay for longevity and step increases for teachers.
But teachers and union officials said last night that without an across-the-board pay raise, more than 20 percent of the teachers - the county's most senior - will receive no increase at all, and an additional 20 percent, generally newer educators, will take a cut after paying more toward pension and health care expenses.
"The superintendent's request moves us backwards," Cheryl Bost, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, told the board during the hearing at Ridge Ruxton School in Towson.
"Can you afford to take a pay cut?" Bost said. "I can't, the employees in this room can't, and we shouldn't be asked to in light of living in and paying taxes in the third-wealthiest county in the wealthiest state."
School officials and board members did not respond to comments from Bost and others who gave statements, which is customary for such public hearings.
Bost, who has taught in Baltimore County for 19 years, said teachers in neighboring counties, including Howard, Anne Arundel and Montgomery, might be getting raises of between 4 percent and 6 percent.
In an interview, Bost estimated that a 1 percent across-the-board increase for teachers would add about $4.7 million to the budget.
Baltimore County employs about 9,000 teachers.