A recent survey of nearly 6,700 parents in Montgomery County showed that 90 percent favor raising teacher salaries and that more than half believe their children's classes are too large, the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations said yesterday.
Council officials said the concern about teacher salaries is related to a severe shortage of teachers nationwide. Although most local jurisdictions have felt the impact of the shortage in some curriculum areas, such as math and foreign languages, school officials expect the crisis to worsen in coming years.
"We expected people to be in favor of raising teacher salaries, but we are surprised by this strong response," said Martha Rosacker, a member of the council's Budget Committee.
Although at one time Montgomery County offered one of the highest teacher salaries in this area, it now has slipped behind Fairfax County, Alexandria, Arlington and the District of Columbia.
A beginning teacher earns $16,573 a year in Montgomery, $18,385 in Fairfax, $18,200 in Alexandria, $18,670 in Arlington and $17,167 in the District.
The Montgomery PTA group said it would use the survey results in making budget requests of the Board of Education and the County Council.
Of about 30,000 survey forms that were sent to parents, 6,683 were returned, council officials said.
County School Superintendent Wilmer S. Cody said yesterday that the survey "serves as a check of what the professional staff and the board think is important, and it points us in constructive directions."
Asked in the survey where the money for increases in teacher salaries and other special programs should come from, 41 percent of the parents favored reallocating funds from other county services to the schools and 34 percent favored asking for a tax increase, the council said.
Addressing parent concerns about class sizes, Cody said he already had been working on a three-year plan and will include a special request in the budget for more teachers in the elementary schools and secondary schools.