From Ben White, Harford County Public School teacher:
David Craig has gone on record many times talking about how difficult the times are and how we all must learn to do more with less. When he said this however he really didn’t mean we in the universal sense. He meant everyone but him. Since 2008 he has managed to give himself a very nice 15% raise including salary and benefits while the teachers of Harford County have had to endure years without even a cost-of-living increase. His salary alone has increased $10,000 from $95,000 to $105,000 since our last raise including a nice $3,000 increase for the coming year.
However this fails to take into account the fact that in the budget he submitted he reports his benefits separately, blended with those of his staff, making it a little difficult to determine with precision what they are. However if you take the average benefits for the office (certainly underestimating his portion) you get a very tidy sum of $35,740 up from $26,883 in 2008. This gives a total compensation package of around $141,000 up from around $122,000. It must be nice to be able to give yourself a raise whenever you want.
However this is not the end of the story. While he tells teachers that they must do more with less and that fewer teachers is not a problem, his office staff has ballooned from 4 (including him) in 2006 with an overall salary of $363,000 to a staff of 12 in 2014 with an overall salary of $1,248,000 for an increase of 340%.
There are roughly the same number of teachers now as there were in 2006, although we did have to cut staff last year. If Mr. Craig cut his staff back to 2006 levels the county could save enough to give each and every teacher a $1000 raise. This has been happening while we lose teachers left and right and he laughs and says “I’ve been here for 30 years and teachers have always left”.
The graphs below for the salaries are using the same range ($20,000). They were generated using publicly available data from the Harford county yearly budgets from the Harford County Government website and the negotiated agreements governing teacher salaries.
However there is one more layer to this story. Occasionally you will see someone compare Harford Teacher salaries at each step level to other counties. This makes it look like we are not as far behind as we are because they forget to mention that in order to receive the benefits at step 12 you have to be allowed to move from step 11 to step 12. This has not happened since 2008. So a teacher in Howard County appears to earn just $5000 more than a teacher in Harford county and this is usually dismissed as the difference in cost of living. The problem is that if a teacher in Howard County was on step 6 in 2008 they would now be on step 11 while a teacher in Harford County would still be at Step 6.
This is something that they don’t even tell teachers they have hired from other counties. There are 3 teachers with 6 years of experience at my school alone that have stated publicly that they are planning on leaving THIS YEAR if the problem is not corrected. Very shortly, this will leave Harford County with a shrinking pool of teachers with 20+ years and a enlarging pool of teachers with less than 5 years. Soon we will have no experienced teachers left at all.
If we compare this situation to Medicine, would anyone want brain surgery performed by a doctor who is brand new to this even if they were superbly talented? Maybe so, if there were a group of experienced doctors nearby to advise and assist if needed. Does anybody want to go through this under the knife of a doctor who is doing this for the first time and is all alone? Of course not. Having been a first year teacher I remember that the experienced teachers around me were the difference between success and failure for MY students. If I had to reinvent the wheel many students would have suffered. Harford County is actually contemplating this kind of strategy where every time a student steps into a classroom it is the first or second time this teacher has done this and no one around them has any more clue than they do.