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Harford County Executive Vetoes School Bonuses

County Executive David Craig issued a statement Friday expressing disappointment over the Harford County Education Association's response to the proposed bonuses.

Harford County Executive David Craig used a veto to withheld one-time bonus money that would have gone to  employees, his office announced Friday morning.

Bonuses for many county employees were approved by the Harford County Council on Tuesday and initially included the board of education, which would be responsible for distributing the bonuses to school system employees.

The bonuses were to be split in half, with the first payment of $625 to be issued before Christmas and the second half may have been distributed in the spring, according to the county executive's office and the Harford County Education Association's website.

On Thursday, the Harford County Education Association, which represents the county's public school teachers in collective bargaining, posted a message to its members about the planned bonuses on its website.

"The fact that the Council passed the bill and the money is now in the school system’s budget is a big win and greatly enhances HCEA’s potential ability to use this money through renegotiations," HCEA president Randy Cerveny wrote in the letter on the union's website.

The school board and the union remain in salary negotiations for next year after the union filed a complaint with the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board arguing the school system acted in bad faith during initial negotiations.

The labor board agreed with the union and could have decided to include any money made available since July in the renegotiation process, including the proposed bonus money, Cerveny explained.

"The money that was just released to (the school system) could be part of that pot, meaning that the binding ruling of the Labor Board could help HCEA restore money lost over the last three years and help upgrade your salaries—permanently," Cerveny's letter on the website stated.

Cerveny told Patch Friday that the contracts and the bonuses are two separate issues, but would have been discussed with the labor board at the same time.

In response to the union's website statement, Craig vetoed the part of the bill that would give bonus money to the board of education for distribution, according the Friday morning statement.

“As a 34 year educator and a former member of HCEA, I am deeply
disappointed in its leadership and their efforts to co-opt this legislation," said in his statement.

Craig contends the union's statement expresses intentions to "hijack this (bonus) fund appropriation to support its case before the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board in an effort to secure the unfunded recurring salary increase," according to the statement.

The veto only impacts the board of education funding and does not impact bonuses to other areas of county government, the  or employees, according Craig's statement.

to see Craig's full statement.

Gareth December 17, 2011 at 07:59 PM
Again, you can't reneg if you've never agreed to anything. You can't reneg if you were never a part of any negotiation. County Government and David Craig do not negotiate teacher salaries. If the Board of Ed agreed to raises, then they should have been able to find the money to pay for it in their budget. (Can you say smartboards and trips to China?)
Annie December 17, 2011 at 08:04 PM
I am not a Harford County employee. I am, however, a Harford County taxpayer. I don't understand how a county leader can take excess money from his budget and give to whomever he chooses. The fair thing to do would be to pay the employees who were forced to take furlough days and credit the balance back to the taxpayers. We all work hard...and times are tough for everyone. Employees of the government get pay increases based on a salary scale,whether or not they perform above and beyond, average, or even below average. Most of us do not receive these automatic raises.
FLRush December 17, 2011 at 08:25 PM
Teacher For Life ! Thanks for your comment for you have given a great example with your statement about what is wrong with some Teachers that are causing your problems. Play in the sewers ? And baby sit our kids ? Don't get me started. We baby sit our kids while you all are Christmas shopping instead of going to the meetings you're suppose to be at while schools are closed and your summer vacations. There are a lot of good Teachers out there but as you have shared with us your not there. You raise our children ? God Help Us.
elizabeth December 17, 2011 at 08:50 PM
What in the world do people think teachers are doing? Why would anyone think that we are lazy? Please, step into our shoes just for one day! So you really think we get a paid summer vacation!? We get paid for a 10 month contract. We have to divide our salaries for the remainder of the summer. Most of us cannot financially make it without working for the summer...ESY, camps, youth orgaznizations etc. Due to the fact that we have not had any colas or steps for the past three years BUT must pay more in increased health premiums including an increase in our retirement portion, we now are faced with a pay cut! However, we still must continue our education throughout our careers. Yes, some monies are reimbursed, but not all! We apparently are not appreciated by the public and private sector and we are constantly bullied by administrators! (HCPS is only supportive of the non-bully rule for students, not teachers and assistants!) I love to teach...I am a special educator...but now I will be evaluated on the progress of my students. How in heaven's name will I be able to show constant improvement in my students when most function at below first grade levels and said progress can take several years to manifest!? I applaud the work of the Teacher's Union and hope that they continue to push for our contract to be honored.
CB9678 December 17, 2011 at 08:52 PM
Actually they have not for three years because according to Craig and the COutny council "the county is too poor to afford the increases." Furthermore our taxes have gone down for each of the last 3 years!!!!
CB9678 December 17, 2011 at 08:53 PM
When are teachers christmas shopping instead of going to meetings??
CB9678 December 17, 2011 at 08:55 PM
First off CHina was not funded by the BOE. Second......the County exec knew that 16 million was the money to fund the negotiated agreement. In his budget statement he even said that is why he reduced the request!!!!
CB9678 December 17, 2011 at 08:58 PM
BTW the extra money you pay in your pension....that is not going to the pension fund but is instead going to the general fund to balance the budget. Essentially you are paying extra taxes....
A Crying Teacher December 18, 2011 at 04:10 AM
First - Please make sense - Teachers work 190 days regardless of when they have off. So, unless your wife can't take off in October, that excuse makes no sense. Second - The county agreed to provide a raise to teachers during negotiations, and "Craig didn't provide funding" and the system "couldn't reallocate funds". Teachers are just asking for what was agreed upon. Sounds go me like your the one crying about not being a teacher. If you think you can handle it, get a degree and start teaching. Third - You act as if teachers don't spend their "off-time", "weekends" and all those "holidays" grading papers, entering grades, planning successful lessons, chaperoning dances and other after school activities. And best of all dealing with parents and kids that don't respect teachers.
A Crying Teacher December 18, 2011 at 04:18 AM
Not sure how this puts our financial security at risk. If anything it puts our children at risk if this continues. Quality teachers will leave the county and go teach in neighboring counties if steps are continually frozen. A first year teacher should not make as much as a 5th year teacher - That is a joke.
A Crying Teacher December 18, 2011 at 04:23 AM
I have virtually been furloughed for 4 years - Except I never even got the day off. Instead, they took money from us, raised health insurance, and asked us to pay more to pensions. I don't mind pitching in and eating some of the cost. However, it is obvious the county screwed its employees - How else would there be that big of an excess. I would have gladly taken furlough days, close schools for a week, then taxpayers would really be up in arms. Maybe you'd have to take time off or send them to daycare.
County Sewers December 18, 2011 at 06:20 AM
I'll take the money. As a manager for the County, I have no union representation. As an employee of Harford County, I'll take what ever they will give, especially when it was not expected by the entire workforce that I am in contact with. My $379 +/- (after taxes) will allow me to buy something nice for my children (both graduates of Harford County Schools and highly educated by Harford County teachers); so it's a win win situation for me! Merry Christmas and thank you Mr. Craig!
Karl Schuub December 18, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Assuming teacher's automatically deserve a raise or a bonus is ridiculous. In the real world beyond public employee unions if you only work 9 months out of a year you're considered part-time thereby do not receive any benefits. In the real world beyond public employee unions you perform consistently at a sub-par level you get no raise; you might not even have your job very long. Yesterday, I went through the drive-through at a fast food place...something happened with the register and the young man couldn't figure out change from a 20$ in this head. Good lord I had to tell him how much I was owed. Nice job teachers!
CB9678 December 18, 2011 at 01:02 PM
Karl your comparrison is debunk because if teachers got private sector pay scales we would have been given all sorts of bonuses and COLAS in the earlier part of this decade. Instead the answer was you gave this up for predicatable step increases comserate with experience.
Ellen December 18, 2011 at 01:09 PM
cb9678... whose taxes went down...all that went down for me is my property value and my taxes went up.
jon December 18, 2011 at 01:46 PM
I hope "A Crying Teacher" isn't teaching English. Or, maybe he/she is, and that would explain the sorry state of the majority of our young people - it's "you're" not "your".
jon December 18, 2011 at 02:04 PM
I just love it when teachers play the role of the victim. Find another profession if you're so unhappy. You all sound like whiners.
jon December 18, 2011 at 02:12 PM
This is such a common misconception - that Teachers will just leave and find other jobs in neighboring counties. Give me a break, my sister teaches in BCPS - any teaching position worth having at a school in Baltimore County already has tenured teachers vying for the spot. So dispense with the myth that the quality of education in HCPS is going to erode.
elizabeth December 18, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Karl, it is more ...thank you to the "educrats" for constantly dumbing down the standards! Teachers have no control over the curriculum...we have to teach what "they" tell us to teach! No one listens when we, the teachers, fight back and tell the "powers that be" what needs to be taught! ...oh forget it...it is time to leave this field that I have so loved! How I wish I could teach in a country that respects the important work of a teacher.
CB9678 December 18, 2011 at 06:05 PM
The rate went down compared to the dictate of the constant yield!
1ke December 19, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Hey, Karl, still pounding those burgers and fries? Ninth grade health teacher, great job!
Linda Stine Flint December 19, 2011 at 01:36 PM
I support Craig 100%....this was a ONE-TIME bonus....shame on HCEA for trying to play politics and now HCEA has denied the teachers their ONE-TIME bonus. The teachers deserved it!
Gareth December 19, 2011 at 03:09 PM
Again, CB9678, you you are incorrect on a number of counts. First of all, the BOE is not an agent of County Government in anything. They are two completely separate entities. While it is true that the BOE depends on County Government for funding, County Government has no oversight of how the BOE spends money or any other decisions that they make. Second, you stated "the county is about to get slammed by the labor board if they do not negotiate a deal that HCEA is happy with." Wrong. The County is not even a party in the labor board dispute - that is between the BOE and HCEA. The labor board cannot compel the County to do anything at all. Third, you state that Craig should have anticipated that HCEA would try to negotiate the bonus money. That is true. That is why the legislation he sent over left the funds in County hands until an MOU could be reached with HCEA, at which time it would be transfered to the BOE. However, the bill was amended by the council to give the money to the BOE once the bill was signed. The Aegis is reporting that HCEA made a verbal agreement to the Council that if the amendment was made, they would sign the MOU, but later renegged on that agreement. That is what necessitated the line item veto which all 7 council members agree with.
CB9678 December 19, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Gareth, the BOE of Harford county is the local educational agency. It is in fact part of the county government. The difference is a myriad of funding laws protects the money from the county govt. It seemed the County Council had no problem leveraging funds to get what they wanted when they built Red Pump, which cost the county more money then the other school. Second if the Labor board finds that HCPS has to fund X Y and Z retroactively it could force the county council to pony up more money or leave the BOE unable to fund other items. Third the selcetion in the Aegis says this ""I spoke to [Craig] last night and he said he was concerned about the fact that we were misled. I agreed with him," Boniface said. "It was my understanding that HCEA would be signing the [memorandum of understanding for the bonuses] after we passed the bill the other night." "They reneged on what they said they would do," he said. "[Craig] was concerned and said that was unacceptable." Boniface said he has not heard from HCEA since the council meeting." Boniface said he never actually heard from anyone simply a rumor so how could he hear of an agreement. In fact Ceverny released his statement the Craig never had any agreement he is trying to cover his tail!
Gareth December 19, 2011 at 09:01 PM
You are incorrect again CB9678. BOE and HCPS are not a part of County Government. The County Council nor County Exec do not pick who the Superintendent is. They do not negotiate teacher contracts. They do not plow school parking lots. County Government has no authority or oversight over HCPS. In fact, HCPS is more closely aligned with State Government than the County. It is true that HCPS depends on County Government for funding, but as previously stated County Government cannot compel how the BOE/HCPS spends funds. Second, the labor board cannot compel County Government or the County Council to do anything. At all. As for your third point, I don't really understand what you are trying to say. I think we are just going around in circles here anyway...
Andy Eisner December 30, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Great points! Collective bargaining, retired benefits and unsustainable pensions are killing the budget. They should have taken the money and stop crying
Andy Eisner December 30, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Not to mention "A Crying Teacher" should use spell check and correct grammer when posting a responce. Is she/he really teaching in our schools?
Andy Eisner December 30, 2011 at 01:47 PM
And to your comment, if you have wealth then everyone should have wealth right?
Andy Eisner December 30, 2011 at 01:55 PM
Fred, it's an honest job. And Teacher, what an attackful comment especially to someone who is a taxpayer and pay's your salary! No wonder your name is hidden and you go undercover with you're comments..Glad my kids don't use the HCPS system, especially if you are an example of what "teaches" there
Andy Eisner December 30, 2011 at 02:06 PM
CB9678..if you worked for the private sector ( no raise in 4 years) you most likely would have been laid-off or fired

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