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Washington County school board OKs step increases for teachers in 2013-14

July 05, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Board of Education approved the terms of the third year of the current teachers contract by a 4-1 vote Friday morning, giving all eligible teachers a step increase in the 2013-14 school year.

The contract still must be approved by the teachers.

“It’s up to the membership now to weigh the package and vote yes or no,” Washington County Teachers Association President Denise Fry said Friday. 

The association’s board of directors has sent contract packages to the members, who have until July 15 to return their ballots, she said.

The association’s negotiating team will meet July 16 to certify the vote, Fry said.

Board President Justin Hartings and board members Donna Brightman, Karen Harshman and Paul Bailey voted in favor of the contract, while Jacqueline Fischer cast the dissenting vote.

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Board members Melissa Williams and Wayne Ridenour recused themselves, with each noting that their spouse is a member of the teachers’ bargaining unit.

Under the contract, eligible Step 5 teachers with bachelor’s degrees would go to Step 6 on the scale and see their salaries increase from $49,319 to $50,730 in the school year that began July 1. 

The contract also raises salaries for Step 19 and Step 20 teachers an additional 0.5 percent, according to the pay scale. That will make the top salary for Step 20 teachers with bachelor’s degrees $57,989 per year, while those with doctorate degrees would be paid $78,057, according to the pay scale.

Those teachers who have hit Step 20 because of years of service also will receive a one-time payment of $375, Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said.

After the vote, Ridenour said board members who have received campaign contributions from the Maryland State Education Association or the Washington County Teachers Association should in the future recuse themselves from voting on contracts. Ridenour said he was not questioning any board member’s position on the contract vote.

Negotiations on the third year of the contract for the 1,733 teachers began in February. After the two sides reached an impasse last month, the talks went to mediation.

The three-year contract called for negotiating teacher compensation in the second and third years of the pact, Hartings said. 

The teachers union was asking for teachers at the top of the pay scale to receive a 2 percent pay increase and for teachers who reach that top step in the future to also get a 2 percent increase, union negotiator Steve Benson said last month.

Money for the pay increases is in the budget and will require no additional expenditures, Wilcox said.




How they voted

The Washington County Board of Education voted 4-1 Friday morning to approve the terms of the third year of the current teachers contract.

  • Paul Bailey, yes
  • Donna Brightman, yes
  • Jacqueline Fischer, no
  • Karen Harshman, yes
  • Justin Hartings, yes
  • * Wayne Ridenour, did not vote
  • * Melissa Williams, did not vote
* Williams and Ridenour recused themselves because each has a spouse who is a member of the teachers’ bargaining unit.
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