Teachers in Prince George’s County, Maryland, are asking for pay raises and a lightened workload, which they say has been overburdened by unnecessary paperwork and documentation.
Prince George’s County Public Schools and its teachers union — which represents about 10,000 educators — are in the midst of contract negotiations to replace its current contract, which expires June 30.
Both sides have agreed to negotiate a three-year contract, but they appear to be far apart over the level of pay raises.
“We are trying to increase teacher pay so that we have competitive salaries that are more in line with what it will take to fill all of these staffing shortages…we came back with 8% in the first year, 7% in the following two years, which is a little bit closer to where inflation is right now, and they came back with 4%; so we’re still quite a ways apart,” said Donna Christy, president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association.
The PGCEA also said that the county’s school system is burdened by chronic staffing shortages.
“Right now, because of the pandemic, there’s staffing shortages everywhere, but this a problem that preceded the pandemic,” Christy said. “These staffing shortages have existed for a long time…there are over 800 vacancies just within our unit, 770 of those being classroom teachers.”
Another key bargaining issue for the union is the daily time allotted to teachers for them to plan lessons, which some say is often eaten up by growing administrative duties.
“The members of PGCEA are seeking manageable workloads that allow teachers to focus on our students and their successes while maintaining a healthy work-life balance,” Christy said.
The next round of contract talks is scheduled Thursday.