County Executive Steve Schuh today announced that his FY2018 budget proposal will fully fund step and/or incremental increases for all eligible Anne Arundel County Public Schools employees starting July 1.
“I am committed to working with our school system to ensure that we reward and retain great teachers,” Schuh said shortly after touring Central Special School. “This proposed increase for all of our outstanding teachers and eligible school system employees assure that we can continue providing the best education for every student in our county.”
The proposal includes $15.6 million to fund compensation increases requested by the Board in the FY 2018 budget. The compensation increases for all eligible school system employees would begin July 1, but the exact nature of most increases will be dependent on negotiations between the Board of Education and its employee bargaining units.
Schuh’s budget proposal will also include $7.5 million to be used for one-time payments to help offset increases in employee health insurance premiums for the county’s nearly 6,000 teachers and other school system employees. The funding would be distributed once employee bargaining units agree to more closely align the school system’s benefits packages with other county employees and school systems around Maryland.
“This is long-overdue good news for our teachers in Anne Arundel County,” said Councilmember Chris Trumbauer, who has been involved in the ongoing budget discussions. “Supporting our educators and fixing the health insurance fund were my top priorities going into this budget and I’m proud we were able to work together to put forth this funding package.”
The step increase is part of an overall strategy by the County to ensure that the school system can return to a regular schedule of annual step increases and uninterrupted healthcare benefits.
“For far too long, our teachers have viewed County government with suspicion and scorn,” said Schuh. “This funding proposal works to regain their trust and ensure that we continue to retain top-notch educators.”
Beginning in last year’s budget, the County allocated $10 million in funding to ensure the healthcare fund’s solvency, and will allocate an additional $5 million to ensure the fund remains solvent through the end of this fiscal year. County and school officials met with the Maryland State Department of Education in March and proposed a funding strategy to ensure the long term stability of the school system’s health care fund. The State approved the proposal April 24.
In addition, the school system has negotiated an agreement with its healthcare administrator to provide $16 million in savings over the next three years. The school system also agreed to redirect $8 million over the next two years to the healthcare fund. The County also has agreed to provide $10 million in recurring dollars over the next two years to ensure the continued solvency of the healthcare fund.
The County Executive will formally include the funding agreement in his FY 2018 budget on May 1. The proposal is subject to County Council approval.