Balto. Co. board may seek a pay raise for teachers

The Baltimore Sun

When the Baltimore County school board meets tonight, teachers will learn whether the panel plans to seek an across-the-board pay raise for educators in its proposed spending plan for the coming school year.

The 11-member board is scheduled to vote on county schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston's proposed $1.18 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Hairston's spending plan includes a request for about $12 million to pay for longevity and step increases for some teachers, but does not include an across-the-board raise.

When the board met last month in a work session to discuss Hairston's proposal, member Joseph J. Pallozzi said he supports "possibly" giving all teachers a 2 percent pay raise.

"I think we have to give teachers a salary increase," Pallozzi said during the work session.

School system budget officials have estimated that a 1 percent raise for all teachers would cost about $5.2 million and 1 percent increase for all employees would cost about $7.9 million.

Teachers and union officials have said 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.

Cheryl Bost, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, said yesterday that she remains hopeful.

"My fingers will be crossed," she said. "But even if they start talking about 2 percent, that's not enough. It's better than nothing, but I still think more is needed."

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 4 percent to 6 percent.

Baltimore County employs about 9,000 teachers.

The board is expected to forward its spending plan to County Executive James T. Smith Jr. by March 1. It then goes to the County Council.gina.davis@baltsun.com

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