The Howard County Board of Education has reached a tentative agreement in its contract negotiations with the Howard County Education Association.
The two-year contract gives eligible teachers a one-step increment, or pay increase, which will go into effect on Dec. 24, and specifies that employees will work three fewer days during the 2015-2016 school year.
Though the contract covers the 2016-2017 school year as well, negotiations can be reopened to discuss salary and one article per party next year.
The agreement comes after months of often tense negotiations. A mediator was brought in after the groups declared an impasse in May.
School officials and the union president lauded the contract in a joint press release sent out by the two bodies.
“The premier reputation enjoyed by Howard County schools is a direct outcome of the hard work, talent, and expertise of our excellent staff,” Board of Education Chairwoman Janet Siddiqui said in a statement. “We are pleased that this agreement provides for a compensation package that allows us to continue to attract and maintain the very best.”
Howard County Public Schools System Superintendent Renee Foose called employees "the foundation of this school system.
"I am pleased that we have reached an agreement that recognizes their vital work," she said in a statement.
“Howard County’s students and families are the winners today; their teachers are among the best in the nation,” HCEA President Paul Lemle said in the release. “This agreement is a commitment to good-faith negotiations in the future and provides a framework for collaboration in evaluations.”
Separate contract negotiations with educational support professionals ended in a tentative, two-year agreement that would give eligible support professionals a one-step increment and a re-indexing of the top step to reflect a 1 percent increase, both effective Dec. 24. Support professionals will also work one fewer day during the 2015-2016 school year.
The Board of Education and teachers' union plan to meet and ratify both contracts at a School Board meeting in September.