Prince George’s Co. teachers’ union, school system at odds in talks for next contract

The teachers’ union in Prince George’s County, Maryland, says the negotiation process for a new contract with leadership has reached an impasse, suggesting that the state’s second-largest school system hasn’t addressed the group’s pay or planning time concerns.

After a Thursday meeting between the county and the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association, group president Donna Christy said both sides seemed to agree that they’re at an impasse. The union, Christy said, plans to file an impasse with the Public School Labor Relations Board. Mediation will be the next step, she said.

The union’s current contract is scheduled to expire June 30.

The impasse comes after weeks of negotiations, during which the educators said they told school leadership that competitive salaries and consistent planning time are required to help the county fill vacant positions.

Prince George’s County has had about 800 vacancies in the system this year, Christy said. There are about 1,000 conditionally certified teachers whose certifications are expiring, she said, and an average of about 850 resignations and retirements each year.

The union organized a rally last week to detail its requests.

In a statement, the school system said:

“Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) strives to ensure our employees are highly valued and rewarded for their service. Four of five unions have agreed to historic compensation increases that are the highest in the region, unmatched by any neighboring school system. The total package offered to PGCEA provides teachers more compensation in a variety of areas and settled more than 100 of 127 items proposed.

“We remain hopeful that a resolution will be reached with PGCEA and that our employees, union and non-union alike, will soon celebrate the highest three-year salary and compensation increases recorded in nearly 30 years of negotiated agreements.”

In a graphic summarizing the school system’s tentative agreements or proposals, the county said Thursday it’s offering a 5% cost-of-living increase in FY23, and then a 4% raise in FY24 and FY25.

Last month, the union said it sought an 8% raise in the first year of its contract, followed by 7% the next two years.

Also in the school system’s graphic, the county said it planned to, among other things:

  • Increase pay from $18 to $30 per hour for some substitute teachers.
  • Increase pay for loss of planning time due to lunch/recess coverage from $20 per hour to $30 per hour.
  • Offer a $100 supply stipend for some employees.
  • Offer a 4% improvement for coaches.
  • Increase pay for on-site mentor teachers from $500 to $750.

Meanwhile, Christy said the group’s leadership can’t think of a time in recent memory that it went through the impasse process.

“If [our teachers] have an opportunity to go to a district where they know that they will be paid more, and that the working conditions are better, I have a hard time looking them in the eye and telling them that they should stay,” Christy said.

School staff, Christy said, sometimes have to use planning time outside of class to call parents, review test data and cover other classes because of the staffing shortage.

“A lot of the things that are sticking points are actually workload issues,” Christy said. “Things like planning time, and then putting guardrails around that planning time so that the time can actually be used for planning, and removing a lot of the demands that have been placed on our teachers that eat into their planning time — that keeps them from doing the planning.”

The Prince George’s County Educators’ Association represents 10,000 workers.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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