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Teacher testifies stipend for some is unfair

February 27, 2001

Teacher testifies stipend for some is unfair



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - It's not fair that certain teachers working in the most difficult public schools are getting $2,000 state stipends while others are not, a Washington County teacher testified Tuesday.

Sheila Thwaite of Hagerstown told the House Ways and Means Committee that she and other teachers without advanced teaching certificates work just as hard to improve the education at Eastern Elementary School.

Yet they are bypassed for the stipend program, approved by the state in 1999 to attract and keep quality educators in the face of a statewide teacher shortage.

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The stipend applies to classroom teachers working in the most difficult schools.

A bill by Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, would expand it to all certified professional public school employees working in those schools.

McKee said he introduced the legislation after hearing from local teachers who said the stipend program has caused morale problems.

Eastern Elementary has received state "Challenge Grant" money to develop new teaching models, Thwaite said.

Grant money sent Thwaite to conferences and paid other expenses of developing a new Outward Bound learning program, which would be lost if she leaves the school.

In fact, if she was replaced by a teacher with an advanced certificate, that person would be eligible for the $2,000 stipend.

"I don't see that makes a lot of money sense," she said.

McKee's bill, however, has a high price tag. The Maryland Department of Legislative Services estimates the cost at $2.8 million a year.

As a member of the education subcommittee on the House Ways and Means Committee, McKee said the bill might be changed to make it more likely to pass.

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