The St. Mary’s school board received millions of extra dollars from the state this year, and while not immediately sure what to do with it, now have a plan that includes extra money for new teachers and several new positions.
Nearly $4 million from the state’s Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, or Senate Bill 1030 — a counterpart to the Kirwan Commission — was included in the fiscal 2020 school budget. However, Tammy McCourt, the assistant superintendent of fiscal services and human resources, said at a school board meeting this week that staff initially needed time to figure out how to best use the funding.
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future money will contribute to a teacher salary incentive the local school board approved during its June 26 meeting. The funds are allocated to improve the salaries of nontenured teachers, or new teachers within their first few years of teaching.
Some of the $3,924,835 will fund two special education teachers — one at Great Mills High and another at Leonardtown High, a lead interventionist and an early childhood teacher liaison.
“We very clearly identify that they are funded by grants,” Superintendent Scott Smith said at a Wednesday school board meeting, referring to the new positions.
Kelly Hall, the executive director of supplemental school programs, clarified the early childhood liaison is not part of Head Start, a federal-funded program. “It’s a position for all the early childhood programs,” she said.
According to fiscal 2020 budget documents, the salary for a new teacher coming in with a bachelor’s degree starts at $47,430. And, according to a report by the Maryland State Department of Education, the average St. Mary’s teacher salary last school year was $66,601.
Through the incentive and a negotiated agreement between the school system and Education Association of St. Mary’s County, the union representing teachers and other staff, teachers will be paid to attend the required new teacher orientation, mentoring and teacher seminars.
The incentive applies to teacher’s first three years with adjustments for teachers who have experience, but new to the school system. For new first-year teachers, those who spend the maximum 60 hours in orientation, mentoring and seminars will receive an additional $2,100.
Nontenured teachers in their second and third years can spend a maximum of 30 hours in the programs and receive an additional $1,050.
By the time teachers reach their fourth year, they will not receive additional salary increases. Instead, they receive a step increase, which Jeff Walker, the assistant superintendent of supporting services, said is in the $500 range. “It’s not huge,” he said at the June 26 meeting, adding that it’s still an increase.
They could also receive cost-of-living raises, based on negotiations.
Another component to the negotiations at EASMC’s request was to look at the salary for experienced teachers. Teachers in their 25th and 29th years in the school system would receive a longevity stipend of $800, since they do not receive annual step increases.
The school board approved some adjustments to its budget related to the Blueprint money, transferring $682,053 out of three budget items and divvying it into multiple others. Specifically, $513,212 will be transferred out of the “other instructional costs category,” $85,508 out of special education and $83,333 out of student services, according to McCourt’s presentation. Mid-level administration will receive $3,700, a total of $352,847 will be transferred into instructional salaries, $11,455 to materials of instruction, $83,333 to health services, $72,341 to transportation and $158,377 to fixed charges.