There has been discontent among some Anne Arundel County educators over the way the school board has been seeking to fill open teaching positions.
Anne Arundel County, like many other school systems throughout the country, has said it is working to fix a staffing shortage in the two weeks leading up to the first day of school, but the teacher’s union is warning against jumping to any conclusions. “In the past, they’ve hired contractors for other positions, such as occupational therapists, physical therapist, speech language pathologists but those are all jobs that can be filled or provided in other settings. Special educators can only provide their service in a classroom, so this is a new issue for us,” said Nicole Disney-Bates, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County.
A number of issues have been raised by the Anne Arundel County Teachers Association. Firstly, they state that contractors are paid more than teachers in the Anne Arundel County Public Schools. However, the educational institution stressed the fact that contractors do not get health insurance or vacation time. “A special educator who is a contractor makes $100,000. If you go onto the health market exchange, it probably costs you about $20,000, which means you’re still walking away with $80,000, which is significantly more than a new employee in AACPS, which makes about $48,000,” Disney-Bates said.
Obtaining a valid teaching credential is another contentious issue. Despite the school district’s assurances that all contractors would have either a conditional, standard, or advanced certificate, special education teacher Diane Barnes has her doubts. “Conditional and provisional basically mean they do not have the credentials needed at the moment; they may or may not be working on them,” Barnes said. “What that means for me is an increased workload because now I have to help do the paperwork, and my department chair has to help do the paperwork.”
TAAAC would prefer it if the county would pause the process of recruiting contractors and go back to the bargaining table so that they could convince more teachers to choose permanent jobs. Disney-Bates has stated her desire to see AACPS become the most desirable place to work by advocating for stipends, differential compensation for special educators, and greater pay for associated service providers. According to TAAAC, the state teachers’ union has accused Anne Arundel County Public Schools of engaging in unfair labor practices.