Fully Fund Calvert Schools Budget
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For the first time in years, Calvert County will see an infusion of new cash from the Dominion liquefaction project in Lusby next year. It is important that parents and citizens in the county understand that their children’s teachers are not asking for a raise. Teacher pay in the county has remained unfunded for years. In real terms, that means teachers are not being paid nearly what their contract says they are supposed to receive based on the number of years they have taught. While a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and 10 years of experience is supposed to be paid $65,979 according to their contract, in reality that teacher is currently paid $56,291, $9,688 less than they are supposed to receive.
While most of the counties in Maryland have worked in recent years to get their educators close to or back on their proper pay steps, so far Calvert County has done nothing to restore lost teacher pay. This has created a situation in which Calvert County’s top teachers are forced to choose whether to remain with CCPS or move to other counties where they can be restored to their proper pay steps. Unfortunately, over 10 percent of county teachers (not including retirees) have left county employment to pursue other opportunities in the last three years (and the number leaving has gone up each year). Calvert County Public Schools cannot remain a top school system in the state if this brain drain continues. Worse, since the school system spends an estimated $40,000 to train each teacher in the first three years of employment, this loss of good teachers represents millions in lost training dollars. That cost doubles when the school system is forced to pay millions to train the new teachers who replace those who have left.
Calvert County has prided itself for decades on having one of the top teacher pay scales in the state. This has allowed the county to attract the best and brightest new teachers for our classrooms and has been a key to making Calvert’s schools great. While the published teacher pay scale is still at the top, based on the actual pay county teachers currently receive, in reality the county pay scale has dropped to around 10th in the state, taking that advantage away from recruiters working to hire the best new teachers for our schools.
How many of our citizens moved here specifically for the fine school system?
Missing teacher pay steps represent an unpaid debt the county owes to teachers who have stayed in the county schools during the hard years we’ve all suffered. Now is the time to begin working to restore teachers’ lost pay steps to pay the debt the county has accrued to those teachers.
The current four-year contract negotiated between educators and the board of education includes one restorative step in fiscal 2017-2018. Funding this first restorative step will not make teachers whole, but it would send a “good faith” message to teachers that the county takes seriously the debt it owes them. It might staunch the flow of educators choosing to leave Calvert County schools for other employment and would be a good first step in guaranteeing that every student in our system has a great, well-qualified teacher standing at the front of their classroom.
The Calvert Board of County Commissioners need to fully fund the county education budget to take a small step toward paying county teachers the money they are owed in their contract and to take a step toward returning Calvert County's schools as one of the best school systems in the nation. We ask that the county commissioners fully fund the education budget and work to restore all lost teacher pay steps in the future.
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