A new agreement could be ready by next week.
A lot of people were disappointed last month when the Board of Education approved a fiscal year 2017 budget, which reduced the amount of money available for a salary resource pool. The spending plan decreases the amount for this pot of money used for negotiations with the Frederick County Teachers Association to $6.1-million, which is down fro the $13.8-million proposed by Superintendent of Schools Theresa Alban.
But Missy Dirks, the President of the FCTA, says it’s not over yet. “We are still in negotiations. The Board of Ed has the ability to move money. That budget is not 100% final,” she says.
Dirks hopes that the School Board will restore some if not all of that money for the salary resource pool in the final contract with the FCTA. “I’m still optimistic that we can put a tentative agreement before our members. But then it’s up to our members whether or not that agreement is something that they’re willing to accept,” she says.
As it’s been for many years, one of the biggest complaints from teachers to the Board of Ed is that salaries are low compared to other jurisdictions in Maryland. A number of teachers have left Frederick County to teach in other counties where pay is higher. Dirks says there are still a lot of teachers who want to leave for other counties to teach. “To a person that I’ve talk to, they would like to stay in Frederick County. They care very much about the students in Frederick County. But they feel like the difference in salary is something that they can’t ignore for their own families’ sake,” says Dirks.
With Frederick County having the lowest teacher starting salaries in Maryland, Dirks says many prospective teachers don’t even bother applying locally. “We hear from teachers who go on recruiting. People just walk by their table. They’ve already gone on line to look at salary scale, and they don’t want to even hear the rest of the benefits package or anything else that’s involved,” she says.
Dirks says the Frederick County School System has been underfunded for a decade, and it will take a lot of time to repair the damage.