The Baltimore County Board of Education cut most of its agenda and canceled public comment hours before it was scheduled to meet Tuesday evening.
The meeting, which went from more than 15 agenda items to two, will be held only online due to “several unplanned board member absences,” said Gboyinde Onijala, spokesperson for the school system. Onijala said some absences were due to illness.
Personnel appointments and a budget allocation transfer will be the only agenda items addressed Tuesday. According to a news release, more information concerning the other agenda items, which included public comment and information on a state capital budget request and the Office of Internal Audit’s Year-End Update for Fiscal Year 2022, will be forthcoming.
The budget allocation transfer pertains to pay raises for unionized and nonunionized employees. The board’s vote is necessary for tentative agreements with county unions to move forward toward finalization.
Pending the board’s vote, the budget transfer would grant raises to each bargaining unit, including the Council of Administrative & Supervisory Employees, the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, Education Support Professionals of Baltimore County and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The teachers association, better known as TABCO, learned it would see the largest raises for teachers in the region this year. AFSCME employees, including bus drivers and custodial staff, would receive $ 15 as the minimum entry wage, nearly $ 3 more than Maryland’s current minimum wage.
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AFSCME staff representative Courtney Jenkins declined to speak on specifics surrounding the agreement and said the union is waiting for the board to sign the agreement.
TABCO’s tentative agreement with the school system outlines a cost-of-living adjustment and a transition to a new pay scale. The scale will guarantee that raises are spread fairly across the teacher landscape and that educators reach maximum salaries five years sooner. The average raw-dollar increases for members would be nearly $ 5,800. New teachers with a bachelor’s degree would see their starting salary go up by $ 4,000; by fiscal year 2026, new teachers would start out making $ 60,579, meeting requirements for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.
TABCO President Cindy Sexton said such raises will boost teacher retention and recruitment. This comes at a time when school systems in Maryland are still trying to fill classrooms ahead of the upcoming school year.
“The salary compression is a historic win. Educators will be increasing their earnings, ”Sexton said. “It shows a commitment to our educators.”
The board will vote on whether to transfer nearly $ 50 million from the general fund to satisfy the systemwide raises for fiscal year 2023. Additionally, the board will vote on appropriating about $ 2.7 million from its food service budget to give “enhanced compensation” to the BCPS AFSCME bargaining units in the Office of Food and Nutrition Services.
Sexton said should the board approve the funds transfer, the Baltimore County Council will then vote. Sub Consequently, TABCO members will vote to finalize the agreement.
“We are anxious for the vote to go through,” she said. “It’s all about what’s best for our children.”