The president of Calvert’s education association said there are a few things to look forward to in the new four-year contract recently hashed out with the school system.
The contract covers July 1, 2020, to June 20, 2024. It has not yet been ratified by the association and will be voted on by the school board Aug. 13, but negotiators have reached an initial agreement.
The contract comes with raises in the form of steps and cost of living increases, Dona Ostenso, president of the association, said, as well as “restorative steps,” she added, to make up for raises not given in the past.
“I think the members are happy about the two restorative steps since my members are still behind when the contract wasn’t honored,” she said.
The agreement states that in the 2020-2021 school year, educators will receive one step, one restoration step for teachers employed during the 2011-2012 school year and a one-time pension stipend of $1,000 for teachers who were at step 31 or higher during 2019-2020 and not eligible for a step.
For 2021-2022, educators will receive another step, restoration step and stipend. A restoration step will also go to teachers hired during the 2020-2021 school year “whose years of verifiable teaching experience at the time of hire were reduced,” the contract states.
A separate salary scale will be added for psychologists, pathologists, social workers, audiologist, occupational therapists and physical therapists. It will be 3% higher than the existing master’s and doctorate scales.
Educators will receive one step and a 1% cost of living increase during both 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years.
Calvert’s 2020-2021 salary scale states the lowest salary for a teacher holding only a bachelor’s degree is $50,500 on step one, but a jump to step two would land them at $51,541. The salary for the highest step for that degree pays $67,492.
For the 2022-2023 school year, the lowest salary for a teacher holding only a bachelor’s degree will be $52,005 on step one, and $52,056 on step two. The highest step for that degree will pay $68,167, and $68,849 in 2023-2024.
Ostenso said the salary increases were not previously honored after the Calvert County commissioners did not support it.
“If the county commissioners say they don’t have money to fund what’s needed, we all know the first thing to go is salary,” she said, adding educators’ increases were frozen for a few years.
Ostenso, a Calvert educator for 32 years, said teaching has changed over the years and the funding should as well. She used the classroom transition from a chalkboard to a smart board as an example.
The school system and commissioners created a special funding formula to ensure salary goals are met in teacher contracts. Calvert public schools’ Superintendent Daniel Curry said the formula, which just finished its fourth year and is up for renewal, would not allow salaries to drop if enrollment dropped.
Curry said he is pleased with the results of the new contract. And although there is “not always agreement on both sides,” there is satisfaction if 10 of the 50 requests are agreed upon.
Other positives in the contract are expanding on previous anti-discrimination language, which includes sentences regarding members of the LGBTQ community, and a solid stance on health care, according to Ostenso.
“We tried to strengthen language as far as discipline goes,” she said.
Ostenso added the administration is supposed to “confer” with a teacher before placing a student back in the classroom after having been removed by the teacher. But that does not always happen. The teacher does not have to necessarily agree with the administrator, she said, but there needs to be a dialogue.
One item the education association president said did not make the contract, but educators will continue to fight for, is increased time for planning periods.
“There just isn’t enough time in the day to do what’s expected,” Ostenso said.