Harford schools to cut teacher jobs, freeze salaries

BEL AIR, Md - Last day of school -- it's the time for the first of many snowballs of the summer.

The Carr kids aren't in Harford County schools yet, but they will be soon.

Parents say it's a good system, but cuts to teachers and a freeze on their pay for next year's budget doesn't sit well.

 "I don't think it's right to cut the teachers because I feel like teachers should make a whole lot of more than what they make now. They work so, so hard,"  Bel Air resident Krystle Carr says.

In fact, about 60 teachers will lose their jobs, and those remaining will have their pay frozen at current levels.

It's one of several ways that the county school board says it had to be creative to try to preserve jobs and maintain a certain quality of education.

"None of this has been a happy thing. We had to really go into the school system and do a lot of things that were unthinkable about three or four years ago," says board president Rick Grambo.

Grambo says they had to deal with $20 million less in the budget after receiving less money from county council. In addition to teachers, there will be dozens of staff cuts, along with a pay to play plan for athletics -- $50 for sports, $25 for extracurricular activities like clubs and band.

"So hopefully people will understand why we did it. We're not mean, but we thought it would help with education by keeping some teachers in the classroom if we could offset some of the costs with pay to play." Grambo says.

But, the teachers that will be kept will have to deal with larger class sizes.

The county teachers union says with new mandated educational guidelines coming next year will be tough.

It will also be personally tough to deal with higher health care costs and a higher cost of living without a raise.

"The people who are going to be hurt the most are the weakest among us -- our teachers, our students more than anyone else, because their classes are going to get larger. Their opportunities are going to be less and while every other system is growing, we're shrinking." Harford County Education Association president Ryan Burbey says.

Burbey says there is actually a $200 million surplus in county coffers with $90 million that hasn't been assigned.

He says Harford County Public Schools rank near the bottom in teacher pay. He argues if funding stays the same as operating expenses go up, expect more cuts to teachers and staff next year.

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