LA PLATA, Md. (Jan. 13, 2010)—The Charles County Board of Education voted Tuesday to provide eligible employees step increases, effective immediately and retroactive to July 1, 2009. The change affects 73 percent of employees.
The vote closes this school years negotiations, which did not provide for any raises in July, but were left open for renegotiation in January to discuss step and scale increases. No cost of living (COLA) raises were provided. Negotiations were completed earlier this week with the school systems two bargaining groups, the Education Association of Charles County (EACC), which represents certificated employees including teachers, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which represents support or classified employees.
The Board has always bargained in good faith and felt it was important to honor the commitments made in June. We reviewed our financial situation in January as negotiated, said Board Vice Chairman Donald Wade. We were successful in adjusting our spending in an effort to generate savings and provide employees with step increases, which are required by contract and based upon the number of years of employment. Staff generated savings through employee turnover, hiring lags and not filling non-classroom positions, Wade said.
The Board, through its negotiations team, came to the following agreements, which implement the base negotiated agreements without a COLA:
-- All eligible AFSCME-group employees will be placed on the proper step and grade, which will be made retroactive to July 1, 2009.
-- All eligible EACC-group employees will be placed on the proper step level, retroactive to July 1, 2009. The final phase of teacher scale compression will be put in effect and is also retroactive to July 1, 2009.
The contract agreed upon in June stated that AFSCME and the EACC reserved the right to bring forth proposals for mid-year salary adjustments in January 2010. The Board agreed to reduce spending as much as possible throughout FY10 and to channel these savings into employee compensation as its priority.
The cost to implement the step increase is $3.9 million. The change affects 1,467 of 2,201, or 67 percent of employees covered by the EACC contract. It affects 826 of 931, or 89 percent of employees covered by the AFSCME contract. Members of the superintendents executive staff are not eligible for increases.
Step and scale increases are being provided through one-time money generated through internal savings. Both bargaining groups were alerted to possible actions that may occur if next years budget revenues do not meet certain levels. Actions may include: layoffs, furloughs, increased class size and/or scale reductions and health care modifications.
Charles County Public Schools joins 13 other Maryland school systems that awarded longevity steps this school year and several others that are also considering implementing mid-year step increases. Charles County was one of 14 Boards of Educations that did not give a COLA this year. Statewide, the average COLA awarded to employees in the other 10 school systems is 2.5 percent for fiscal year 2010.
The cost of implementing the contract does not require any new funding or financial commitment from the Charles County Commissioners. Funding by the county would remain at the minimal maintenance of effort level established by law.
Source: Charles County public school system