Teacher protests that began in Bel Air are spreading throughout Harford County, with groups of teachers at 17 county schools working no more than their contracted hours in a show of frustration over salaries that haven’t increased in the past three years. Teachers who “work to the contract” or “work to rule”, do not volunteer at lunchtime or beyond the school day to tutor students or run extra-curricular clubs and activities.
Randy Cerveny, president of the Harford County Education Association, the union representing county teachers and the driving force behind the action, said Monday that teachers at more of the county’s 54 public schools are being added to the list of participants every day. Teachers at some of the schools are taking the action for only a day or two, Cerveny said, while many are continuing the protests through the end of the school year.
The 2011-12 school year will end later this month, but teachers have also called for the action to continue in the next school year.
Salary increases for all school employees that were requested for 2012-13 by the Harford County Board of Education have not been funded in the fiscal year 2013 budgets recently approved by state and county governments. Board action is expected later this month to reconcile the schools’ budget with the funding levels provided.
Among the most recent groups to join the demonstrations, teachers at Aberdeen High School walked into the building together at 6:55 a.m. Tuesday, the beginning of their contract day.
Aberdeen teacher Jason Guarino said he moved into teaching from the private sector but as a fourth year teacher with a master’s degree, he is still being paid at the level of a first year teacher and may have to reconsider his career plans in order to support his family. Guarino, who is also a graduate of Aberdeen High, estimated that a quarter to a third of the staff, or 35 – 45 teachers, participated in the action Tuesday.
Photos courtesy of Jason Guarino
Regarding the demonstrations at other Harford County schools, Cerveny did not respond to questions about the number of participants at each school, but provided the following list on Monday of the schools where teachers had thus far worked to the contract:
• Bakerfield Elementary School
• Bel Air High School
• Bel Air Middle School
• Edgewood Middle School
• Emmorton Elementary School
• Fallston High School
• Fallston Middle School
• Havre de Grace High School
• Hickory Elementary School
• Joppatowne High School
• North Harford High School
• North Harford Middle School
• Patterson Mill High School
• Patterson Mill Middle School
• Ring Factory Elementary School
• Youths Benefit Elementary School
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story included a photo that has been removed following a request made by Harford County Public Schools. While not legally required, the request for removal was granted as a courtesy. The student in the photo was not relevant to the subject of the story.