Teachers union negotiates pay raise with Anne Arundel school board

Lauren Lumpkin
Contact Reporterllumpkin@capgaznews.com

The county’s teachers union reached an agreement with the school board that includes salary and mid-year raises for eligible employees.

The school board last week approved an agreement that will convert a beginning-of-the-fiscal-year step increase — previously approved by the county council — into a 2 percent cost-of-living increase. Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County members will also get a mid-year step increase in early 2019.

“It helps all of our members,” said Russell Leone, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County. “We will continue next year to advocate for our educators to provide what we know they’re worth.”

The school board voted unanimously to approve the agreement.

“We’re certainly happy to have an agreement in place,” said Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesperson Bob Mosier. “We value our teachers, as we do all of our employees. They do a phenomenal job in front of our students every single day.”

The step increase represents a victory for the more than 6,000-member union, which lost out on crucial pay raises after the 2008 recession and its aftermath.

The county council and county executive at the time denied budget requests that would fund step increases, Leone said.

“When the recession hit, there was no money there for salary increases,” Leone said. “When people were frozen on their steps, they were here for years, but were held on a step that’s lower.”

Anne Arundel County teachers didn’t get step increases between the 2008-2009 and 2012-2013 school years, Mosier said. An increase did come halfway through the 2013-2014 school year and teachers received another during the 2014-2015 school year.

The 2015-16 school year was skipped and step increases resumed during the 2016-17 academic year.

During most years without step increases, eligible teachers did receive cost of living adjustments.

“We work towards working with the school board and county executive to try and close those gaps,” Leone said. “When they don’t provide enough funds to help us close those gaps, those are years when we’re still lagging behind other counties.”

Teachers’ salaries depend on factors like education level and years of experience, but educators in Anne Arundel County tend to earn less than those in surrounding counties like Baltimore, Howard, Prince George’s, Calvert and Montgomery.

Leone said the union will continue to advocate for the return of step increases lost in the past 10 years. He estimates teachers are about five steps behind and, in some cases, pay gaps amount to thousands of dollars.

It’s difficult to put an exact dollar amount on how much teachers are being underpaid, but in some cases, the pay gap amounts to thousands of dollars, Leone said.

This article has been updated to reflect the fact that teachers did not receive step increases during the 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2015-2016 school years. Eligible teachers did get step increases during the 2016-2017 school year.

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