The Prince George's school board has approved contracts with all four of its employee unions, agreeing to a series of salary increases over the next two to three years.
The board and the three labor unions representing teachers, principals and bus drivers agreed to two-year deals last week that would give them 2 percent raises, retroactive to July 1, and then another 1 percent salary increase starting in January.
During the second year of the contract, the employees will receive 2 percent raises in July 2005 and another 1 percent increase the following January.
The union that represents about 1,100 custodians agreed to the same two-year plan, plus a third year of salary increases that would start with a 3 percent boost in July 2006 and another 1 percent in January 2007.
"This is a great occasion," county schools chief Andre J. Hornsby said in a statement. "I am committed to improving compensation for all employees and providing increased opportunities for staff development to better meet the needs of our students."
Union leaders, who have had tense and lengthy contract negotiations with the school system in recent years, said they were pleased with the agreements. Over the past few years, employees have been working under one-year contracts.
"I'm glad that we have reached an agreement with the board on the contract, because there are many other serious issues that we need to deal with," said Doris Reed, executive director of the Association of Supervisory and Administrative School Personnel, which represents about 620 principals and other administrators.
"I feel real good about it," said Carnell Reed, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 400, which represents custodians. "I think it's a good package."
The contracts contain various concessions.
Principals and assistant principals, for example, will receive stipends on top of their salary raises. The 6,500 bus drivers, secretaries, cafeteria workers and others represented by the Association of Classified Employees Local 2250 will receive additional training opportunities. Custodians will get compensatory time for working on weather emergency days.
Teachers will have more planning time and will no longer have to monitor lunch and recess. In the second year of the agreement, they will also be allowed to take four days off for personal reasons instead of three, said Carol Kilby, president of the Prince George's County Educators' Association, which represents about 9,000 teachers.
First-year teachers will automatically be bumped to the second level of the salary scale. The starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree will go from $36,101 to $37,910; the salary for a new teacher with a master's degree will go from $39,574 to $41,556.
"If you look across regions and school systems, we needed to recognize and maintain competitive salaries for employees," said Howard Burnett, the school system's chief administrator for human resources.
ANDRE J. HORNSBY