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School Reductions Yield No Firings, Possible Class Size Increase

Randy Cerveny, president of the HCEA, said there were 110 position openings at the end of the school year.

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 said that the county schools system will not have to fire teachers in order to meet a reduction of 66 staff members.

, 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 , 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.

Peter Nincompoop June 13, 2012 at 10:03 PM
So The County Council has the money to hire themselves each a full time $40,000 a year personal assistant, but the teachers have to fight to get a raise and to make this happen 110 positions will now go unfilled.....
Teacher4Ever June 14, 2012 at 01:46 AM
"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." Yes, Randy, the taxpayers didn't elect HCEA to run the school system.
Neal Anderson June 14, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Can you believe they cut school libraries by 50%! I'm sure that won't impact the kids or classrooms!
Tim Montoya June 14, 2012 at 11:31 AM
I'm wondering how the teachers feel about this? I would assume the teachers who will benefit are happy, but now there will be positions cut and some funding cut to certain departments. Is this a win for everyone or just those benefitting?
Hazzard Native June 14, 2012 at 07:29 PM
How about the children who will get even less one on one instruction, does anyone give a damned about them?
Curtis Coon June 14, 2012 at 09:27 PM
How in the world did we ever get educated? I seem to recall an average class size of 32 and many as high as 36 in my high school. In my book, "giving a darned" has little to do with the bricks and sticks, and little to do with the absolute number of teachers. It has much more to do with the quality of those teachers. I say we need to pay our quality teachers well and encourage them to do their best. Hard decisions have to be made in this economic climate. Keep the best for our kids and the talent will permeate the entire school.
CGreenwood June 14, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Everything has a cost. Why are the teachers to blame for asking that the contract the BOE negotiated be honored? And, the BOE really has no ideas what effects the cuts have. They rarely get into the schools and talk with the teachers, who are at the heart of the system. The powers that be do not ask for ideas because they love power and THEY are the ones who are hurting the students, not the teachers who bargained in good faith and expected the same from the BOE.
CGreenwood June 14, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Only three current members of the BOE are elected. The rest of them are appointed and some of them have NO idea about what it takes to run a school system. Who better to sit with to talk about possible cuts that WILL NOT hurt the students than the group that is working with the students. This process does work in other counties...ones where teachers are respected as knowledgeable professionals.
Curtis Coon June 14, 2012 at 10:35 PM
It may be true that "everything has a cost" but that cost is not always money. Time. Caring. Emotional involvment Sacrafice. These are all costs, the least of which is money. It is time we valued more than the money. Paying teachers does not necessarily improve on the lot of teachers, and in fact can solicit mediocrity. Recruiting the right ones, training them well, and paying them so that they are interested in staying in the profession....that's value.
Erinn June 15, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Tim, yes it was a small victory for teachers but I can tell you that at my school and at a friend's school, the loss of teachers was very sad. Those we lost were good people who did a lot for our kids and our teachers. So while I am glad for the abeit small raise, and am SO grateful for it, I am sad that it came at the expense of our IH's and other positions that are so valuable to us all.
spencer June 21, 2012 at 03:02 PM
curtis i wish it were that simple but the world revolves around money.

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