ANNAPOLIS – With substantial support from state legislators, Gov. Parris Glendening wants to give Maryland teachers a record 10 percent pay hike over two years.
Glendening earmarked $90 million for public school teacher salary increases in a supplemental budget released Tuesday.
“An educator’s salary must have a level of dignity. It should be enough to support a family,” said Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
Baltimore, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County are slated to receive the biggest shares – totaling more than $12 million each for the first two years – and Calvert and Talbot received the smallest allocations – about $1.3 million each.
There is a catch: the counties must pay for a 4-percent pay increase to get another 1 percent from the state each year.
“10 percent! This is going to get really exciting here. It will make all the difference in the world, especially because I have three children in college,” said Virginia Crespo, a social studies teacher at Broadneck High School in Anne Arundel County.
Poor schools would get a share of a $19 million set-aside to help them meet the 4 percent trigger – with Baltimore getting more than half of that set- aside.
In 2001, the funds will come from the state’s portion of the national tobacco settlement. A source for the 2002 funding has not been identified, Townsend said.
The salary boost might help alleviate the teacher shortage by attracting more people into the profession and keeping qualified educators from leaving the state for better-paying jobs.
Maryland schools will need an additional 11,000 teachers by 2001, but state colleges graduate only about 2,500 education majors a year – and about half of those leave the state.
“It’s a wonderful initiative. It’s daring,” said Maryland State Teachers Association vice president Patricia Foerster.
“This is a signal that our government cares,” said Susie Jablinske, a first-grade teacher who now serves as president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County.
Maryland’s average teacher salary ranks 14th among the states now, and in 1993 it was ranked eighth, Maryland State Teacher’s Association executive director Betsy Moyer said.
The state’s ranking has worsened in recent years because Maryland schools have used funds to hire new teachers, instead of raising salaries, Moyer said.
With the state boasting a $940 million budget surplus, Glendening, a former University of Maryland professor, set aside big bucks for education.
Last month the governor earmarked $24.3 million in his operating budget for teacher recruitment and retention programs.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George’s, and House Speaker Casper Taylor, D-Allegheny, along with many other delegates and senators, praised the newest proposal, dubbed the “Governor’s Challenge.”
“We are indeed putting our money where out mouth is,” Taylor said. “What’s happening in the classroom is of vital importance to our future. This is a very, very important step forward.”