Salaries, technology top school funding priorities

March 26, 1997


Staff Writer

The Washington County Commissioners heard the same message over and over Tuesday night - competitive salaries must be offered in order to attract and keep quality teachers and other school employees.

Several school board members and most of the 19 people who spoke during the Washington County Board of Education's annual budget presentation to the commissioners talked about the need for higher salaries at all levels if the school system is to compete with neighboring counties and states.

Boonsboro High School teacher Terry Doub said the disparity hits him every time he brings his tennis team "across the mountain" into Frederick County, Md., where the tennis coach is paid $900 more than he is for coaching one team instead of two.


The school board's $104 million budget includes nearly $2.5 for "wage improvements," but school board members told commissioners they can't get specific on proposed pay increases until negotiations are completed.

The budget would require County Commissioners to contribute just over $53.3 million - nearly $6 million more than the county's share this year.

Last year's budget was $96.4 million.

Teachers working harder and longer to meet increased state demands aren't seeing it reflected in their paychecks, said a Salem Avenue Elementary School teacher, who said she feels especially bad for "senior" teachers with 20 or more years who've hit the top of the pay scale.

"You don't feel as if you're being rewarded for your efforts," she said.

Washington County's starting salary for teachers ranks second from the bottom in the state, said Bill Greenwald, president of the Washington County Teachers Association.

The county's teachers rank 17th in the state in average salary, said Greenwald, one of several people who suggesting raising taxes if it's the only way the budget can be funded.

Greenwald said he ranked salaries equal in importance to up-to-date technology, another popular topic among the night's speakers.

The school board asked the County Commissioners for an additional $2.1 million outside the budget for computers, software and networking for classrooms and school computer and business labs.

A proposed $1.3 million elementary school grant program and expansion of the school/family liaison also received strong support.

Linda Dunn, president of the Washington County Educational Classified Employees Association, told the County Commissioners she couldn't support the budget because her 899 classified employees have been offered only a 1 percent raise.

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