This is the story of what happened when the Harford County teachers’ union told the school board about its plans to help teachers leave Harford County Public Schools.
Speaking on behalf of the Harford County Education Association (HCEA), the union representing teachers, HCEA board of directors member George Curry took to the microphone at an April 14th school board meeting to make the following announcement:
“…We have, in partnership with Baltimore County Public Schools, set up a job fair for Harford County teachers with Baltimore County on April 25…”
Curry went on to explain to the Harford County School Board that the likelihood of flat funding from county government for next year, combined with a lack of salary step increases in four out of the past five years, had left many Harford County teachers struggling financially. In addition, Curry said, HCPS would be forced to cut teachers each year, if funding levels didn’t increase. Therefore…
“We, the [HCEA] Board of Directors feel that it is our moral responsibility to assist all teachers, not just our members, on the verge of losing their jobs to have assistance finding a new home that will treat them as the treasured assets that they are, since Harford County does not, and provided no such assistance in helping them find new positions last year.
We feel it is also our responsibility to assist all of our teachers to find a position in a system that is willing to provide them with the job and financial security and that Harford County is unwilling to provide, even at the expense of losing members of our own organization.”
Curry went on to say that the decision by the HCEA Board of Directors was not an easy one, and no one was happy with the situation. However, he said, “We must present options that benefit the teachers of Harford County.”
But the job fair never happened.
For an explanation, we fast forward to the school board meeting Monday, where HCPS teacher Pete Rost said in public comments that Baltimore County Public Schools was asked to back out.
George Curry followed up, adding that the Harford teachers’ union had “no obligation” to inform the school board about the job fair, but, “Obviously the statement that I presented hit some nerves and got some attention…For some reason HCPS felt the need to interfere and shut this down.”
Asked about her plans to inform teachers if jobs are to be cut next year, Superintendent Barbara Canavan said through a spokesperson Tuesday that the she would not make a public statement at this time, citing the ongoing budget process and county funding that is not yet finalized. However, she provided the following excerpt from an email that she sent to employees:
“Both the Board of Education and I are committed to providing information to those affected in a timely manner. All resources including employee email, board meetings, our website and social media will be utilized to fulfill our commitment.”
Regarding the fate of the job fair, Canavan said, “There is a very collaborative and professional relationship among the school systems in Maryland. The job fair was not aligned with the standards the school systems have established with each other and was consequently cancelled.”