June 2, 2010

MCPS teachers ratify contract renegotiation

On May 26, 71 percent of eligible teachers cast the ballot in favor of the renegotiated contract between the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) ñ an association that acts as a bargaining agent for teacher contracts ñ and the Montgomery County Public School Board of Education (BOE), according to MCEA Executive Director Tom Israel. Teacher contracts dictate how teachers are compensated for their work as well as policies teachers must follow. The new contract called for individual planning time for Elementary School teachers, giving teachers the option to work from home on grading day, mandatory department meetings and the elimination of interims, according to MCEA vice president Christopher Lloyd.

Despite changes, tensions continue between the two parties due to BOE's suppression of teacher raises, according to MCEA Blair liaison Marc Grossman. Like Grossman, some teachers were concerned about BOE's repression of salary raises. "Last year, all schools with employees gave up a 5.3 percent raise for a guarantee of health benefit costs," Lloyd said. "Teachers would pay 10 percent of the health premium and the school system would pay 90 percent." In 2009, the MCEA and BOE agreed to push back raises until Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) would be fiscally capable of fulfilling the current contract. Grossman was not content with BOE's unfulfilled promise as there was no talk of a raise in the newly negotiated agreement; he felt that MCPS should have had enough money for raises by the time the contract was finalized.

Grossman expressed his disappointment in an email concerning the contract's ratification. "I [voted] no, because a dangerous precedent is being set that will delegitimize the contract negotiation process," he said. "Negotiated agreements should not be treated as suggestions to be broken when politically expedient."

The Representative Assembly of MCEA ñ composed of teacher liaisons from each school in the county ñ decided to advise teachers to ratify the contract, however. "The Representative Assembly voted 83-30 to approve of the contract," Grossman said.

MCEA president Doug Prouty acknowledged the severity of the salary raise issue in a letter to teachers. "The biggest issue is that there is no cost of living adjustment or step increases included for the 2010-11 school year in the contract," Prouty wrote. He addressed future opportunities for salary increases. "We will bargain again next year about salaries for 2011-12." SOURCE: Silver Chips

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