Frederick County Public Schools teachers will receive a 1.9 percent salary increase this school year thanks to a one-year agreement reached between the school system and the Frederick County Teachers Association.
In addition to the across-the-board pay increase, teachers who hold a bachelor's degree and are continuing their education will be eligible for mid-year pay scale increases based on the number of credits they have completed.
The agreement was reached through both in-person and virtual meetings between FCPS and union representatives over the past few months. Ultimately, both parties agreed to have a one-year agreement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of Education unanimously approved the agreement during their most recent meeting.
The contract will be reopened next year for further negotiations and amendments.
FCTA President Melissa Dirks, said while the pandemic added additional challenges to the negotiations, the final contract holds improvements for both teaching and learning in the county.
"It is a reasonable and fair contract given the circumstances and was ratified by a majority of FCTA members," Dirks said.
In addition to the pay increases, health insurance premiums for teachers will increase by 2 percent and there are new parental leave provisions for parents who are both employed by the school system.
The one-year contract also states that a study will be convened to look at and assess workload issues for various positions including school counselors, special education department chairs and media specialists.
The agreement also has the addition of Flexible Professional Time (FPT), which was piloted over the last three school years. According to the contract, the previous one day of system-wide designated professional learning will be converted to seven hours of FPT.
This is meant to give teachers autonomy and flexibility in achieving their professional growth and development.
Jennifer Nguherimo, chief negotiator for FCTA, said although this year's agreement saw improvements, there is still far to go and that it's hard to meet goals when there is a lack of resources.
“We’re not there yet. There is a chronic underfunding of this school system which really causes a great deal of hardship each negotiation…but hope springs eternal," she said.
Board member Karen Yoho, a former FCPS teacher, had a message for teachers before the board voted.
"We did try to do the best we could for you. It’s uncertain times and in my book, it will never be enough, but believe me that we did try to give you what we could," she said.