The Frederick County Board of Education on Monday voted to increase minimum pay across the system, provide retention incentives for support staff and build a series of early dismissal days into the coming months’ schedule in an effort to address concerns of understaffing and burnout among employees.

The district’s baseline pay will now be $15 per hour. Currently, the lowest-earning workers make $13.47 per hour.

The board also voted to boost substitute teacher pay by $3 per hour, to establish a central platform for organizing community volunteers, to eliminate the cost of fingerprinting and uniforms for new employees, and to pause all nonessential professional development sessions.

Frederick County Public Schools’ Chief Financial Officer Leslie Pellegrino presented board members with an array of possible actions at the top of the meeting, many of which stemmed from last week’s emergency work session on staffing woes.

At that work session, teachers, bus drivers, food service workers and more urged the board to boost employee pay and provide more autonomous time for instructors to plan and grade, among other efforts. It was often emotional, with many employees complaining of low morale across the system.

In the more than three hours of debate that followed Pellegrino’s presentation on Monday, board members tossed out motions left and right, amending, approving and rejecting them along the way.

“We have to come together to work on this,” board vice president Karen Yoho said. “If the teachers can’t do their jobs properly because they don’t have time, our kids aren’t getting the best education.”

All of the board’s decisions regarding pay are subject to approval and negotiation with the unions representing its employees, a process which board president Jay Mason said should start Tuesday.

Pellegrino estimated the cost of the move to $15 per hour would take $325,000 out of fiscal year 2022’s operating budget, and $585,000 out of fiscal year 2023’s. The boost in substitute pay will cost $572,000 in fiscal 2022 and $880,000 in fiscal 2023, she said.

Board members also discussed ways to put more hours in teachers’ day, since many are giving up planning time for things like covering lunch duty or supervising students whose buses are late.

Students are set to get out of school two hours early on Jan. 13, Feb. 22, and March 25, in an effort to provide teachers with time to catch up. And the volunteer system — which the system plans to delegate to a newly hired coordinator — should help mobilize community members to cover simple tasks like supervising recess or serving as hall monitors.

Follow Jillian Atelsek on Twitter: @jillian_atelsek

(3) comments

JustACitizen

And more early dismissals puts yet another burden on working parents with school-aged children who need to secure childcare. FCPS needs to join the 21st century and reform.

bpsws

So one way to address the burnout is to add yet one more position at the central office, "And the volunteer system — which the system plans to delegate to a newly hired coordinator — " Put this money out to support staff. Has anyone looked recently at the number of personnel at the Central Office?

mary robinson

So...two whole hours a month. That should definitely make up for lost time overseeing hallways and bathroom, supervising at lunchtime, covering for others during the rest of the month, I don't think.

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