Retired FCPS Teachers Listen To BOE Candidates

A forum  was held at Crumland Farms Activity building.
Frederick, Md (KM)  It’s an issue that the  Frederick County Public School System  has been grappling with for years: how to attract and retain good teachers, rather then seeing them go to other school districts for higher salaries. That was one of many topics brought up Tuesday during a Board of Education candidates forum held at the Crumland Farms Activity building.

Incumbent Joy Schaefer addressed that issue to an audience of retired teachers. “If we take care of those people, that’s how we get the most quality staff available to come and work with us and stay with us and to remain with us,” she said.

Challenger Mike Bunitsky said some changes need to be made by the school system. He said there’s “too much emphasis on data collection, combined with lack of academic freedom,” he said. “This school system needs an overhaul in some respects that can only be done by four votes.”

Schaefer and Bunitsky were the only two candidates to come to the forum. Cindy Rose was absent because of a family illness. Cindy Stull read a statement describing Rose’s positions. Carroll Khene spoke for candidate Kenneth Kerr, who was teaching a class at Frederick Community College.

Another issue the candidates addressed was whether Superintendent Dr. Theresa Alban was paid too much. “Our superintendents’ salaries, in comparison to other counties of the same or similar size, and or a $500-million budget, is actually kind of low,” Bunitsky said. He said Dr. Alban gives up a lot of perks that come with her job, such as an allowance for the use of her car for her job.

Schaefer said the Superintendent has turned down pay raises. “In years when that there’s not an increment and in years that there’s not a COLA {Cost of Living Adjustment},  the Board has the ability to give her that. She has made clear that she’s not going to take it,” she said.

There was also the issue of retiree benefits. Bunitsky, who retired from the School System this year, said FCPS provides insurance to more than 14,000 people, including 1200 retirees. “So they are not overburdening the school system’s budget,” he said.

And Schaefer said the School System needs to keep the benefits it already has for its retirees. “I think the commitment that the School System and we make to you, when you join that public service,  is of utmost important to keep,” she said. “So I would agree with Mr. Bunitsky that we certainly are not going to go back on any of the benefits that we already have.”

General Election day is Tuesday, November 8th.