LETTER: Teachers, School Board Negotiations Ongoing

Randy Cerveny, President of Harford County Education Association, calls for good faith negotiations

The Public School Labor Relations Board ruled that was negotiating in bad faith with the , or HCEA, according to a letter to the editor from the HCEA president.

Randy Cerveny, president of HCEA, submitted a letter to the editor Wednesday urging parents and community members to reach out to the Harford County Board of Education to encourage good faith negotiations.

Below is the unedited letter he sent to Patch.

To the editor:

Harford County’s students and teachers deserve better than this.

The teachers of Harford County have been in negotiations with Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) since November 2010 for their contract, which began in July 2011.

On April 2, 2012, the Public School Labor Relations Board found that HCPS had been negotiating in bad faith with the Harford County Education Association, which represents the county’s teachers. The Labor Board ordered the two parties to continue to negotiate in good faith. The Labor Board found that HCPS failed to honor parts of the previously negotiated contract agreement with the teachers and failed to follow the agreed upon advertised salary schedule.

Instead of honoring the decision of the Labor Board, Harford County Public Schools filed an appeal of the Labor Board’s decision to the circuit court. To date, Harford County Public Schools has spent in excess of $300,000 on attorney fees instead of meeting its commitments to bargain in good faith and follow accepted labor practices.

HCPS should return to the negotiating table and enter into good faith negotiations with its employees. To do otherwise would continue to heighten mistrust, lower teacher morale, and shift the focus away from where it should be—our students. HCEA wants to create a collaborative relationship with HCPS to improve and enhance the learning environment for our students in Harford County.

Parents and community members should contact your HCPS Board of Education member and tell them to keep their promise to the teachers of Harford County. Our children deserve a school system focused on student success rather than avoiding responsibility.


Randy Cerveny

President of Harford County Education Association (HCEA)

CDR April 15, 2012 at 09:37 PM
I'm not sure where John W gets his info, either. $71K is the top of the pay scale for Harford County teachers, which means those with at least 19 years experience now that pay steps have been frozen for 4 years. Elementary school teachers are only given one 45 minute planning period per day. I'm sick of comments like teachers overvalue themselves. This is the same mentality I hear from many who seem to think teachers are little more than daycare providers. It is an entirely different world today than in the 60s, 70s or 80s for teachers. There is no way class sizes can be the sizes John W speaks of with the inclusion of special needs students, many with behavioral problems.
CB9678 April 16, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Myself and my wife, both teachers outlayed about 3,000 in our own pocket money for classroom supplies. I only got to deducte $500 of that on taxes. I do that because someone has to step up and supply the kids with colored pencils, binders, composition books, pens, pencils as well as disposable lab supplies that the school will not pay for to be used in my science class. This is the first year in a while some parents have actually stepped up and sent a box of tissues in for general classroom use like I ask for. Usually I buy them too! I have attempted to also point out to you Karl that you maybe unaware of the source of the "premium holidays" in Harford County. Unlike other counties, HCPS self insures for benefits.
CB9678 April 16, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Myself and my wife, both teachers outlayed about 3,000 in our own pocket money for classroom supplies. I only got to deducte $500 of that on taxes. I do that because someone has to step up and supply the kids with colored pencils, binders, composition books, pens, pencils as well as disposable lab supplies that the school will not pay for to be used in my science class. This is the first year in a while some parents have actually stepped up and sent a box of tissues in for general classroom use like I ask for. Usually I buy them too!
Karl Schuub April 16, 2012 at 05:07 PM
CB if in fact that were true it's a reflection of a complete lack of organization on both your and your wife. First of all; lists of needed supplies to include erasers, pens, colored pens, paper, etc. are given to parents before school starts...if for some reason you neglect to include some needed item that's what the $250 is for. Can't imagine how you get to to $1500 for one classroom on top of what parents provide and the school district. There's a short film entitled Caine's Arcade - check it out on You Tube. It might give you a lesson in what a kid can accomplish with a couple of cardboard boxes and tape.
AG April 16, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Why do teachers believe no one in the private sector has to spend money on their job or profession that is not reimbursed?
Hulkster April 16, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Can someone please tell me what a basic salary is for teachers? Lets say less than 10 years on the job and no Masters Degree. Thanks
CB9678 April 17, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Hulkster currently (no master degree) teacher in year 1-4 (step 1) 41,171 year 5 (step 2) 42,405 Masters Degree 44,987 year 6 (step 3) 43,677 Masters 46,366 year 7 (step 4) 44,987 Masters 47,728 year 8 (step 5) 46,366 Masters 49,159 year 9 (step 6) 47,728 Masters 50,633 year 10 (step 7) 49,159 Masters 52,153
CB9678 April 17, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Karl not all parents provide for their kids in my school. Additionally when i wish to do certian labs that the kids relate to and makes teaching the concept more concrete for them, I pay for the supplies!!! I saw Cain's Arcade and it is cool. That is often what I must do but the honest truth is I fork out for things because it is good for the kids and the school won't pay for it!!!!!
CB9678 April 17, 2012 at 12:59 AM
AG never said you didn't but Karl is acting as this 250 dollar tax deduction is a great huge amount. Fact is I spend well over it!
AG April 17, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Please understand how I have little sympathy. Private sector people frequently spend their own money on their job. I received my MS degree many years ago. After a couple of years, no one ever paid me more for my MS. People only want to know what am I going to do for them in the future, not what did I do many years ago. I have spent countless nights away from my family on business trips. I have spent many nights sleeping on airport floors because of airports being closed in bad weather. I have taken pay cuts and layoffs. And my retirement plan is whatever I can save. Then I hear "They only want what every private sector employee gets every year, a cost of living increase.", how much teacher have to put out in their own money, or how often a teacher has to work over 40 hours a week. Give me a break .
Hulkster April 17, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Thank You CB. I would just like to put in my .02. I think teachers are underpaid and under appreciated. If you are just going to pay them a very average salary the job will MAINLY attract very average employees. I believe if the job paid more, it would become more competive and result in, well, just better teachers. I feel the job teachers have is hard enough, and with the average wage, the people filling the position ON AVERAGE and NOT the people that should be teaching our children. Not that more money for teachers will promise a better education for our children but I think it sure would help.
Karl Schuub April 17, 2012 at 12:05 PM
And to present a more honest picture after 19 years regardless of the quality of your work and in a position that given the lengthy leave would be considered part time in private employment the scale jumps to $71,000, plus generous benefits that include 8 paid sick days that you can bank for years and years and years. By the way most teachers retire with thousands due them from banking these days. The cool thing is the payment scale isn't the rate the year these days were forgone but the rate based upon your last day out. That's just for starters. Good teachers might deserve that, but not all teachers are good teachers. Unions and public employees don't mix...it only serves to guarantee a disservice to the taxpayers.
Hulkster April 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Hey there Karl. I don't know much if anything about unions so I can't comment about the union at all. I do agree that unions PROBABLY help keep bad employees employed but that is for another discussion. I feel that 71K after 19 years of service is just a good wage. maybe a bit beeter then average but not great by anymeans. I don't know anything about teachers health benis but 8 sick days a years is on average. It is a plus they can roll them over from year to year. I don't know how to get a better education for children but I feel if we all as a whole, gave teachers the respect they deserve it would be a good place to start. Right now ALOT of teachers are not good teacher IMO. But if the wages were better I really think it would become a more sought after profession and garner better applicants, thus better teacher and hopefully better education. I also fel this way for police officers as well.......Another reason I feel ALOT of cops are so bad at their job, the wages are terrible for such an important job.
AG April 17, 2012 at 01:08 PM
You just can increase wages and expect better people. You end up with overpaid people. If you want to improve the people you must do three things: 1. Improve pay 2. Eliminate under performers 3. Reduce bureaucracy to improve job satisfaction Without doing all three, you will not improve the quality of teachers. Labor unions will not allow #2, and the government will not allow #3 given the current status quo. This is why we need school vouchers and charter schools.
CB9678 April 17, 2012 at 01:29 PM
AG, When private sector jobs where handing out 10% COLAS 10 years ago like they where going out of style and teachers would get 2% we got told to wait this was the make-up. Now you want to treat us like private sector employees well fine. Match my 403b contributions and give me my pension contributions back. I will take care of my own. Do you want to see the result of teachers only doing what is in their job description? All I am saying is that I put out money from my own pocket and do not mind doing it for the kids. but do not act as if a special $250 deduction even comes close to what an average teacher forks out!
Karl Schuub April 17, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Some teachers are worth it; many aren't - we come to an agreement there. Where we disagree is the idea that 71K isn't a great wage for basically a part time job. The maximum number of days they're required to teach is 190. The days are scheduled @ 37.5 as well, not the 40 nearly everyone in the private sector works. Of the 90 they're also allowed: 3 paid personal days, 13 scheduled holidays, accrued annual leave, accrued sick leave kicked back at retirement. Per the language in section 9.2: The total amount of sick leave accumulated is unlimited. With all that time off not sure how you'd ever need sick days. That 190 days turns into much less when you add it all up. All this whining about being ripped off is a bunch of who shot John.
CB9678 April 17, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I think you are dead on. What makes this particularly hard to swallow as an employee is that an HCPS teacher can leave and get a job in Cecil or Baltimore county and make $5,000 more next year. You will start seeing more teachers leave because of this. On top of that when the county claims to be broke yet has a huge rainy day fund which keeps growing it is clearly not unable to afford it. We did not touch the fund during our past years of rainy day. Simply keeping the salary competitive with our two neighbors will help attract and keep more teachers (the good ones). Otherwise if you pay crap you will simply get more crap! Simple capitalism!
Hulkster April 17, 2012 at 01:43 PM
I couldn't agree with you more AG. I have no ideas on how to go about it but i think we all know what must be done. I also feel that the whole idea of learning is just something to do at school attitude with todays parents has to stop. Not sure if I can get my point across on here but I hope people understand what I mean. Also, I find it kinda strange that when a teacher calls home to talk about a childs bad behavior or just about anything negative, the parent ALOT of the times don't believe the teacher. When did this start? If a teacher EVER called my parents they were 100% behind the teacher. Now it seems the parents are 100% behind a child, WHY? IS it we all know that our children can only tell the complete truth and don't ever fib? Teachers have it tough now and we as parents aren't helping them. AG, please talk more about school vouchers and charter school. Are charters schools similar to the magnet programs?
CB9678 April 17, 2012 at 02:46 PM
AG there is a process for eliminating underpreformsers! simply demand the people do it. BTW the last charter school we had failed miserably. "In evaluating some of the statistical studies that seek to compare charter vs. public school performance, recent investigations conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University reveal that students' test scores may prove that public schools are now outperforming charter schools. As CREDO, a national organization devoted to charter school research reveals, the Stanford analysts compared reading and math state-based standardized test scores between charter school vs. public school students in 15 states, as well as scores in the District of Columbia. In fact, in further evaluating the data, experts found that 37 percent of charter schools posted improvements in math scores; however, these improvement rates were significantly below the improvement rates of students in the public school classrooms. Furthermore, 46 percent of charter schools experienced math improvements that were "statistically indistinguishable" from the average improvement rates shown by public school students. Ultimately, this data surmises that in the category of math alone, only 17 percent of charter schools have reported achievement rates that surpass public school performance results. Similarly, charter school students' reading scores improvement rates were also below their public school counterparts" Taken from Credo study
CB9678 April 17, 2012 at 02:47 PM
The 13 holidays are not counted in the 190. The 190 is the 180 the kids attend plus 10 days extra. Essentially you are not paying them for holidays!
AG April 17, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Generally speaking, GE eliminates their bottom 10% annually. How many teachers have been let go? Charter schools are not the same as Maryland's magnet school program. I would love to see more of the CREDO study. From what I have seen, schools have truly been cut free from the bureaucracy do better. But many times the schools are not cut free, and they are charter schools in name only. Can you send submit a link to the study?
Karl Schuub April 17, 2012 at 04:26 PM
CB...you can't argue that teachers get lots of time off; lots more than most private sector workers and as such you need to prorate the pay vs. hours work if you're trying to make a fair comparison. Against 190 days, taking average vaca, etc., private sector workers are at closer to 240...that's a pretty big descrepancy and amounts to something akin to taking every friday off. That's a huge difference. At that rate year round work would bring in closer to 85-90K. I wouldn't mind paying it if we paid that to the excellent, but we pay that to anybody who manages to sit and breath for 19 years.
CB9678 April 17, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Not argueing they work 50 less days but.....you clearly are distorting the facts when you count 13 days off in the 190!!!!!!
Maxell April 17, 2012 at 05:38 PM
You have a lot of b@lls for never being in a classroom. Since you have all the answers, why don't you take your show on the road and run for the BOE or the County Council? You could run it like you run your mouth....
CB9678 April 17, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Hulkster April 17, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Seems that most of us are in agrrement that we would pay alot of money to good quailified teachers. OK, so I guess the next issue is how do we get rid of the poor teachers. How to you say what is a bad teacher, I don't think you could go on test scores alone. Again, I can see the problem but I have no idea how o fix it. Maybe that is what everyone runs into, How to stop the runaway train? I am pretty sure 80% of the problem with the education system as a whole, not what we are talking about here, is the PARENTS!!!! Saying my child is not doing well is because the teachers are bad. My child doesn't misbehave in class, the teacher just has it out for them. Thats the easy way out. Maybe if the parent would take some responsibility and help teach their children things would improve. Who knows, I sure know that I DON"T know how to fix it. But I Do know that it sure is broke.
Karl Schuub April 17, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Hulkster: And there's the rub...unions don't want any systems in place for an easy route to ridding waste from the system. Why would they - it's all union dues. The idea that parents share a great deal of the blame fits in with the overall slide in standards and civility - you'll get an AMEN from me on that. It's the liberalism of all of society...anything goes, and me first. Parents used to teach respect; not sure if parents even attempt to teach morals any longer. Still doesn't mean there aren't horrid teacher's out there banking sick days and just waiting to retire while the kids suffer.
1ke April 18, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Karl Schuub: This is a most appropriate, most insightful, most literate, most profound. You, again, demonstrate your value to this online community.
CB9678 April 18, 2012 at 03:00 PM
To further look at this case a teacher with 12 years experience in this county and a masters degree can leave and precure a job in Cecil county next year and get an 8,000 bump in salary or Baltimore COunty and get a 7,500 bump. We are no longer competitive with the area.
Heather April 19, 2012 at 02:25 PM
John W... here's a thought, since you're so convinced that teaching is a cushy job, get your teaching certificate. That is of course assuming you already have your BS or BA. Just remember that once you do that you not only have to teach 10 months a year but you are also REQUIRED to work on your Masters Degree and pay out of pocket for it up front and only be partially reimbursed. Also, be prepared to spend at least 2-3 hours a day at home grading papers and preparing lessons on top of the eight hours you spent at the school, because those phantom 3 free periods a day DO NOT exist! By the way there is no HUGE line waiting to get this "cushy" job. In fact there are shortages in many areas, especially in Special Education, math and the sciences..... oh, and for the sake of complete disclosure. I am not a teacher. I am a parent.


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