The Frederick County Board of Education is supporting a transfer of $6.4 million into the school system’s salary and resource pool after receiving $20 million above maintenance of effort funding from the county for fiscal 2022.
The full fiscal 2022 operating budget has not been approved, as Frederick County Public Schools is waiting to receive funding information from the state. But Wednesday night’s vote signaled a commitment by the board to increase teacher salaries, which have long been criticized as being too low in Frederick County.
Board member Liz Barrett made the motion for the fund transfer. The board approved it unanimously.
“We all recognize the year and more that everyone has had ... I think we’re all of a mindset that whatever we can do to pay our staff as we have always wanted to is a good thing and ... it’s really, really nice to be on this side of money coming in, and hopefully that will continue,” board Vice President Karen Yoho said.
Board member Brad Young said the board has been fighting to get out of the hole of low teacher salaries for quite some time.
“Unfortunately, we went through many years where we weren’t getting increased funding, and we fell behind in our pay structure,” he said. “We’re still in that hole, and this will be a help to continue the effort to climb out of that. Our most valuable resources that we have are our staff ... and we can’t continue to fall behind counties. We should never be paying less.”
FCPS has consistently ranked low on the list of Maryland counties in terms of teacher pay and per-pupil spending. And after a year marked by a global pandemic that saw an increased need for funding in areas like technology, it was unclear if the board would be able to prioritize an increase in teacher pay.
After making her motion, Barrett reiterated that she would like to see data collected on how this move impacts teacher recruitment and retention.
“I’ll be looking to ... find out if this is the answer to recruit more first-year teachers ... and also finding out how this investment in people improves retention,” she said. “Because when we start putting this kind of money into the salary resource pool, we’re saying this is absolutely our priority, and so I want to make sure that we’re doing it in a way that we will be able to measure outcomes.”
The board will hear another update on the budget on June 23. A final vote could come that evening. The fiscal 2022 budget goes into effect on July 1.