Harford County teachers will not have to worry about their jobs in order to get their raises, although class sizes may become an issue.
The president of the Harford County educators union said that the county schools system will not have to fire teachers in order to meet a reduction of 66 staff members.
Randy Cerveny, president of the union, said there were 110 position openings at the end of the school year.
Those vacant positions may be eliminated to cover $3.9 million of the $10 million cost of the negotiated increases to teacher salaries, Cerveny said.
"No one will be losing their job," Cerveny said, adding that he doesn't believe any of the eliminated positions will be direct classroom positions.
In an interview on WBAL radio Wednesday, Craig said the raises were something he "figured out [the school board] would be able to do, because they had money in there."
Craig plans to approve the school's budget, a county spokesperson said.
“I know he’s not making any objection to it, I can tell you that, because the money comes out of the school board’s budget” County spokesman Bob Thomas said.
The staff reductions could impact class sizes, Cerveny said.
Some support staff positions, like special educators for example, could be eliminated. In the case of special educators, this would mean a higher number of students these educators are responsible for.
At Havre de Grace High School—the smallest of the ten public high schools in Harford County—administrators are preparing for the loss of one teaching position. That position belonged to a retiring social studies teacher.
Assistant principal Colin Carr, who was working on the schedule Wednesday before talking with Patch by phone, said no classes would be lost.
“It’s not ideal, but it is what it is,” Carr said. “The class offerings won’t change.”
Carr said the schedule for the upcoming school year was completed before the budget called for an elimination of teaching positions. Now, he said, it's a matter of tinkering with an enormous puzzle.
Carr said all classes—particularly those higher-level classes added to the school in recent years—would be available to the student body.
“We’re not taking any classes out. They’ll all still be offered,” he said. “It’s just a question of where, and how many of those classes. If you’re a teacher short, you’re a teacher short.”
Carr, who also manages the facilities on the school campus, said he is not anticipating losing any support staff at the school.
The union can negotiate raises, but not how they are funded, Cerveny said.
"We wanted to sit down with them and make some suggestions about where they could make these adjustments so it would have the least amount of impact on the class room," Cerveny said. "They chose not do this."
The tentative agreement was reached Monday when the union agreed to "give up" the greivance filed against the Harford County Board of Education in exchange for a 1 percent cost of living raise for the next school year, a step increase raise for eligible teachers and longevity increases for more experienced teachers.
The union filed a greivance with the Public School Labor Relations Board, which found that the schools system had been negotiating in bad faith with the union, Patch reported in April.
The Public School Labor Relations Board found that the schools system failed to honor parts of the previously negotiated contract agreement with the teachers and failed to follow the agreed upon advertised salary schedule.
“We thought it was worthwhile for our teachers to have money in their paycheck next year, because previous to that discussion the board of ed was not willing to negotiate any money on the contract," Cerveny said.
Cerveny said the raises were a positive step, but not the end of the issue.
"We are not competitive right now, we are the lowest paid [teachers] in the Baltimore metropolitan area," Cerveny said.
Cerveny said the county has increased funding for all other departments by about 14 percent over the past few years, while increasing funding for education by 1.3 percent.
“We are going to be doing a lot to educate the public [next year], because until they understand and get involved it’s going to remain status quo,” Cerveny said.