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Just say 'Thanks'

For teachers, maybe it will be Christmas in April.

Flash back to the holiday season: It became clear Harford County's revenue and spending numbers were looking better than expected and County Executive David R. Craig proposed giving bonuses to county employees, including the teachers and staff of Harford County Public Schools.

Raises had been written out of the budget earlier in the process when economic prospects were dim. The logic behind the bonuses was to let county staff know they are appreciated, even though no official raises had been approved earlier.

Enter the Harford County Education Association, the local teachers' union. It's leadership took issue with the bonuses, saying teachers deserved a full-on raise, not a mere bonus that wasn't guaranteed to be part of the next year's compensation package. It also appeared the union was maneuvering to have the full county allocation to the school system diverted into the teachers' salary category, the heck with other school system staff.

The sage advice, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth," comes to mind. Many teachers were upset. The taxpayers, many of whom saw neither raises nor bonuses in 2011, questioned the fairness of giving bonuses to government employees. And the county executive ended up vetoing the portion of the bonus package relating to teachers, a bonus package he proposed in the first place.

Last week, the Harford County Council acted on a new version of the teacher bonuses. Let's hope this time more rational heads prevail and the complaints about getting a little extra money are kept to a minimum. Hopefully, this will be the last episode in this sorry tale.

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