Pay Bills

2 Maryland education bills focus on class size, support staff compensation

Two bills in the Maryland General Assembly aim to attract and retain teachers and school support staff.

Two bills in the Maryland General Assembly aim to attract and retain teachers and school support staff.

A bill would provide a $500 bonus every year for two years to school support workers in Maryland — including everyone from food service workers to bus drivers.

At a virtual press conference on the legislation, State Sen. Craig Zucker said parents have seen over the past two years how much work is being done by staff members, such as paraeducators. and other school employees.



He said the bonuses in the legislation serve to tell support staff that “the state of Maryland is investing in you, just as you have invested in our children.”

Pia Morrison, president of SEIU Local 500, which represents school support staff in Montgomery County, said, “This issue of pay equity and low compensation for support staff professionals needs to be addressed in a meaningful way.

She explained that according to the Economic Policy Institute, the median weekly wage for restaurant workers is $331.

“There shouldn’t be a job in the public sector in this country and especially in K-12 teaching that isn’t a family job.” said Morrison.

Another bill would take class size into account as part of the collective bargaining process for teachers. Currently, state law does not allow class size to be part of the bargaining process.

“An unmanageable number of students in a class can prevent a teacher from providing the individual learning and attention a child may need to succeed,” Del said. Jazz Lewis.

Sia Kyriakakos, an art teacher in Baltimore, said teaching large classes limits what a teacher can accomplish with students. When she had larger classes, she said she often thought to herself, “Was I just there to babysit?”

Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association and a fourth-grade teacher, said she had similar feelings when teaching classes of 30 students.

In this situation, she said she felt she was doing more management than education. When teaching a class of 20, Bost said, “I knew each of their reading levels, their math levels.”

She added that it allowed for a more personal connection with her students. “I knew their favorite colors, their dogs at home,” and Bost said it allowed him to meet his students’ needs in a meaningful way.

Costs

The initial cost of awarding the bonuses in Senate Bill 831 would be $41 million, according to the Maryland State Education Association. The bill would create a task force to study what percentage of support staff earn a living wage and study the salary levels needed to attract and retain school staff.

Asked about the tax impact of being allowed to negotiate class sizes, Bost said, “We’ll have to see that in the years to come.”

If class sizes are reduced, more teachers may need to be hired and school capacity building may be a problem.

“We know we’re going to have to look at the school’s physical capacity as we expand our pre-K opportunities that are provided in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” Bost said, referring to the school reform bill. education that was promulgated.