Harford Teachers Union, School Board Reach Accord on Bonus Payment …

… First $625 disbursement would be made two weeks after council, executive approve funding …

baltimoresun.com

By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun

9:35 PM EST, February 1, 2012

Harford County’s teachers union and school board reached a tentative deal Wednesday to amend this school year’s contract to include half of the county executive’s proposed bonus disbursement.

The amendment allows for a one-time payment of $625 for all teachers, as long as the funding is approved by County Executive David R. Craig, a Republican and teacher in the district for 34 years, and the County Council, according to a statement Wednesday evening from Harford County’s public schools.

If ratified by the two parties, the amendment would allow the disbursement to occur two weeks after the funds are appropriated by the county.

“It is my hope that this tentative agreement will be ratified quickly to allow our teachers to finally receive the county bonus funding that they rightfully deserve,” Superintendent Robert M. Tomback said in the statement. “I am truly pleased that [the Harford County Education Association] agreed to tentatively accept the Board’s offer to disburse the one-time funds to our teachers.”

The disbursement would be the first installment of a $1,250 stipend that Craig proposed for all county employees as a result of a fiscal 2012 budget surplus. Nearly 2,000 Harford County employees received the first disbursement of their bonus in December.

The Harford County Education Association, which represents the county’s teachers, was the only union — of nine groups that represent county employees — that did not immediately jump at Craig’s offer of a semiannual bonus.

As previously reported by The Baltimore Sun, the educators union, upset that Craig did not include funds for teacher raises in the current year’s budget, attempted to use Craig’s proposed stipend as leverage for a future raise. Union leaders also felt Craig undermined the union’s right to collective bargaining by making the offer himself, instead of passing it through the Board of Education.

The County Council approved Craig’s bonus last year with an amendment proposed by teachers that the one-time bonus be referred to as a payment. The amendment, council members later realized, could have been used to bolster the union’s argument for a pay raise in the next budget. Craig vetoed the payment to teachers as originally written, and the council did not override his decision.

The union represents 3,200 teachers. Teachers, like other workers in the county, have not received raises for three years, but they were not subjected to the furlough days imposed on other county employees during the recession.

If Wednesday’s agreement is accepted, the second half of the bonus would likely be disbursed to teachers in June as well as to the rest of the county’s employees, provided that it too is approved by Craig and the County Council.

Attempts to reach the union’s president, Randall Cerveny, and Craig by phone Wednesday night were unsuccessful.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun

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