Teacher pay deal solidified

June 20, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Denise Fry said Tuesday that she feels like she's won the lottery. After just two days on the job, she was able to sign an agreement that ensures a 7 percent raise for the county's public schoolteachers.

Fry recently was named president of the Washington County Teachers Association, which has been in contract negotiations with the Board of Education, discussing portions of the 2007-08 school year contract.

Both sides agreed on the contract following six months of negotiations that led to state officials declaring talks at an impasse in May.

Teachers will receive a 7 percent salary increase plus a step increase, according to the negotiated agreement signed during the board's business meeting Tuesday. Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said she believes that is the best teacher raise in the state.


"Our teachers have certainly stepped up to the plate," Fry said. "It's nice to know that's validated."

The sides started negotiations far apart in salary requests. In January, the board proposed a 3 percent increase and the union representatives requested a 12 percent raise.

T. Scott Miller, Maryland State Teachers Association UniServ Director and chief negotiator, said the state and county teachers associations are confident that the agreement will "provide the meaningful salary and benefits enhancement necessary to retain the quality educators that the students in Washington County deserve ... "

The school system also will pay half of the individual and premium health-care costs for employees working up to 30 hours per week, officials have said. Tuition reimbursement will increase from $198 to $294 per credit for a preapproved course of study, for a maximum of nine credit hours, the signed contract states.

The current contract language will remain in place for voluntary transfers.

The board will provide vision coverage, effective July 1, 2008, officials have said. Coverage details will be determined by the board.

Tim Thornburg, supervisor of human resources and chief negotiator for the board, said the total package totals about $8 million.

"The package that was agreed to will help the board attract and retain teachers to Washington County in the highly competitive market," he said.

Full contract negotiations for the 2008-09 school year will begin in October.

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