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Official says teacher pay should be increased

December 24, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Finding and keeping good teachers will be crucial to Washington County in the coming years, school officials told state lawmakers on Tuesday.

But the board won't be able to do that without raising teacher salaries, said Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr.

The Washington County Board of Education met Tuesday with four members of the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

A good portion of the county's 1,400 teachers will be eligible for retirement in the next five years, Bartlett told them.

Replacements are difficult to find because there is a shortage of certified teachers, he said.

"The pressure is going to be on this Board of Education to raise teacher salaries. When you're in a competitive environment, you don't want to end up with the proverbial bottom of the barrel."

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The board has raised salaries, but not enough to keep up with pay hikes given to teachers in neighboring Pennsylvania, he said.

"We are looking at some way of getting major money," said board member B. Marie Byers.

Maryland Sen. Donald F. Munson said the state government may consider incentives to keep teachers on past their eligible retirement dates.

Other suggestions by the Maryland Board of Education are income tax credits for teachers, a tuition tax credit, a 10 percent bonus for teachers with national certification and a $5,000 signing bonus for top college graduates who pledge to teach in the state for three years.

The General Assembly will be focusing on ways to recruit and keep good teachers in the next few years, although all the options are expensive, said Munson, R-Washington.

"We can see this as a looming crisis," he said.

Money for school construction, however, will be relatively plentiful.

The state is projecting a budget surplus that some lawmakers have talked about spending on one-time costs such as schools.

While Washington County isn't experiencing fast enrollment growth, many of its older schools need to be renovated, Bartlett said.

The school system also has smaller, neighborhood schools that are more expensive, he said.

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