Calvert Education Association Agrees to New Contract for Teachers

By Christy Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 9, 2009

The association representing teachers in Calvert County public schools has come to an agreement with the Board of Education over next year's contracts.

Members of the Calvert Education Association agreed to a 0.5 percent cost-of-living increase in their pay, instead of the 4.5 percent they were originally contracted to receive.

The Board of Education had asked the teachers, support staff members and administrators to renegotiate their contracts to help the school system make ends meet in a tight budget year. The teachers association, which was on the last year of its three-year contract, was the last of the groups to agree to the lower salaries.

The union secured step increases for its members. Those at step 30, the top of the pay scale, will receive a 1.1 percent lump-sum payment in December. All employee contributions to health-care plans will remain at the same level they paid last year.

"We are not really happy with it," said Joseph Sella, the education association's chief negotiator. "But they wanted to make sure members had at least the step increases to build on their salaries for the next contract."

The negotiations begin on the next contract for teachers and their support staff this fall.

The new one-year contract also stipulates that if additional money should come into the school system that is not needed for operating expenses, those funds would be used to raise the salaries to the previously negotiated levels, said Robin Welsh, deputy superintendent. Welsh said that the stipulation also was included in the administrators' new contract but that the idea of additional funds coming to the system this year "is highly unlikely."

The school system lost more than 30 positions through attrition, Welsh said, but classes and other areas have been reworked to cover the losses. The year will be tough after the school system's belt tightening, Welsh said. But she sought to reassure parents.

"I don't think parents have to worry. . . . We have a lot of things in place to work with their children," she said. "We want to be very careful, and we are just being very prudent with any spending we are doing this upcoming year."

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