The following public comments were made to the Harford County Board of Education by Randy Cerveny, president of the Harford County Education Association. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:
President Wolkow, members of the BOE and Superintendent Tomback, I am Randy Cerveny the president of HCEA, I’m speaking on behalf of our teachers.
I don’t believe many in Harford County were surprised Friday when Executive Craig released his county budget, but educators were extremely disappointed and frustrated by his action. HCEA and other bargaining units negotiated their 2011-12 agreement, with the BOE in good faith. We understand that should funds not be available from the county, we have to return to negotiations. That’s the way it works in MD. You can understand why teachers feel like they have been slapped in the face again. Teachers have suffered 2 years without any financial increases and reduced benefits. Then to add to our misery and frustrations, earlier today the State conference committee that resolves the Maryland budget voted. They plan to increase pension contributions by 2% for all educators and reduce benefits for future teachers. This mean all teachers will take a 2% pay reduction next year.
We are aware that Harford County is not isolated from the challenging financial times. As board members, you are in a position to make teachers feel honored to be part of Harford County Public schools. Do what is right for our educators. To do this, all portions of your budget will suffer cuts. Make those cuts to areas that have the least impact on the staff, and that honor the students we serve. These cuts must have the least impact on student achievement. Harford’s Educators have continued to rise to the occasion of increased challenges and demands on their jobs Regardless of what happens now, you must determine a way for your educators to feel valued. We need your help. We are willing to work with you to find ways to respect Harford County Educators. Even in these tough times it does come down to money. Don’t put these cuts on the backs of the teachers.