Yesterday, in a unanimous vote of 8-0-0 the Board of Education adopted an operating budget of $1,121,630,500, a total of $36,132,800 (or 3.33%) over fiscal year 2016. The major funding category of Instructional Salaries and Wages, however, increased by only 1.94%. Board members, or most of them, took the opportunity to compliment the “generous” budget and gave words of appreciation and gratitude to the County Executive, County Council, Superintendent, Chief Operating Officer and his team, and to the parents, teachers and other members of the public who came out to testify at the budget hearings.
If was as if every Board member forgot for a moment the nature of the agenda items to immediately follow. As “generous” as the comments indicated the budget to be, it was insufficient to settle collective bargaining agreements for three of the four represented bargaining units. Following nearly a full school year of bargaining, neither TAAAC, AEL, or SAAAAC has managed to reach an acceptable settlement with the Board. TAAAC has already requested and received a Determination of Impasse from the Public School Labor Relations Board, submitted last and best offers (see June 9 update on www.taaac.org), and agreed upon a mediator.
So, immediately following the happy vote, the next several action items consisted of votes on terms and conditions of employment for employees in Unit 1 (TAAAC), Unit 2 (AEL), Unit 4 (SAAAAC), and Units 5 and 6 (unrepresented). All passed on 8-0-0 vote counts.
TERMS OF CONDITIONS EMPLOYMENT ADOPTED FOR UNIT 1 FOLLOW:
FY16 AGREEMENT WILL BE EXTENDED UNTIL A SETTLEMENT OCCURS WITH THESE EXCEPTIONS THAT:
- No step or any other increase until a settlement is reached.
- The Annapolis HS MOU is extended to June 30, 2017.
An inconsistency in the presentation and discussion left the Board’s intention on the matter of retroactivity ambiguous. It is an issue we have clarify and provide an appropriate update.
As far as Unit 1 employees are concerned, the budget was not particularly generous. Salary wise, it provides sufficient funds for a step-only settlement. The only other salary-related enhancement was an increase in the hourly wage for home, hospital, summer school, and evening teachers to finally move them beyond the long-standing rate of $25 per hour. Those teachers certainly deserve the increase; but so do our permanent fulltime educators that take on other extra- instructional activities. TAAAC is taking a last and best offer to mediation that similarly raises the contractual extra-instructional wage from $25 to $30 per hour. The Board rejected that proposal and is carrying their position into mediation even after granting the same raise to another group of local educators.
Above criticism notwithstanding, we should note the positive components of the budget. It includes a restoration of $20M into our healthcare fund (half of the $20M is one-time-only) and 100 new positions. Of the 100 new positions, 88.5 are classroom teachers or school-based staff members who have direct daily contact with students, including:
- $3.2 million for 33 new teaching positions to break even with ongoing enrollment increases and 10 additional teaching positions to begin to assist in the goal to reduce growing class sizes.
- $1.5 million to add seventh grade at the Monarch Global contract school and support AACPS’ charter schools.
- $449,000 for six special education teachers.
- $358,000 to add four English Language Acquisition classroom teachers and an interpreter for the International Student Services Office
- $169,000 for three additional bilingual facilitators to provide critical assistance and support to non-English speaking families.
- $1.2 million for 11.5 teaching positions to expand the Enhancing Elementary Excellence (Triple-E) program to the nine elementary schools in the Chesapeake and Northeast clusters.
- $654,000 for four positions to enhance the STEM programs at Lindale and Central middle schools.