Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County President Richard Benfer released the following statement in response to County Executive Schuh’s budget proposal:
“County Executive Schuh’s budget proposal is below the superintendent’s recommendation, below the Board of Education’s recommendation, and far below what our students and educators need and deserve. It is insufficient to reverse the harm he has done during his time in office as teacher pay plummeted to the lowest in any urban district in Maryland and Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) has dropped from the sixth best system in the state when Schuh took office to the 12th.”
From Schuh’s first recommended budget in Fiscal Year 2016 through FY 2018, Anne Arundel County employees received annual pay increases averaging nearly four percent, grossing three-year increases averaging 10.5 percent with the highest being 15 percent. Local teachers, however, were held to a three-year total of 6.36 percent, or an average of just over two percent. Until today, Mr. Schuh has been treating teachers only half as well as his own County employees. During these three years of disparate treatment the AACPS became the lowest paid urban district in Maryland.
The disparate treatment is not limited to salaries. Budget actions taken by the County Executive were direct contributors to the solvency crisis that fell on our healthcare fund. As a result, AACPS employees had to dig into their own pockets to solve the healthcare crisis, costing some thousands of dollars over the course of the next three years.
AACPS class sizes have swelled. In FY 2018 the AACPS welcomed 1,500 new students. The County Executive did not fund a single new classroom position. The AACPS is expecting an increase of 1,700 new students in FY 2019, to leave the school system with 3,200 students more than it had in FY 2017. In Mr. Schuh’s recommended FY 2019 budget there is funding for 50 classroom positions to address unacceptable class sizes. Fifty new teachers for 3,200 means translates to a 64:1 student-to-teacher ratio that is destined to generate larger – not smaller – class sizes.
County Executive Schuh might have been well-intentioned when he budgeted for a contractual step and a second mid-year step for eligible educators. Although he circumvented the collective bargaining process in doing so, it is important to take this action in the context of his repeated lack of investment in our schools and teachers throughout his term, rather than this election year move.
When Mr. Schuh took office Niche.com, a website that helps people to explore and find the schools and neighborhoods that are right for them, ranked Anne Arundel Public Schools the sixth best of the 24 Maryland districts. By 2017, AACPS slipped to eighth of 24. Now in 2018, AACPS stands at 12th of 24. Worse, in Niche’s 2018 ranking of the best Maryland districts to come and teach, the AACPS stands at 16th of 24.
William Jones is the Executive Director of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County (TAAAC).
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