All eyes on teachers absences in Prince George’s County

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md. – A large effort by unionized teachers and school staff to create chaos in Prince George’s County Public Schools by coordinating sick days never came to pass on Monday, as had been discussed and prepared for late last week, never came to pass.

Administrators issued a letter to principals alerting them to the so-called plans and asking campus leaders to log any irregularities in policies.

A tally of the sick day requests by the school district Monday found that only 1,053 absences were recorded for teachers across the more than 200 schools in the district. That’s fewer than the 1,419 absences on March 5 and 1,554 missed school days recorded on March 12.

The statement on absences released Monday also made note of efforts made by the district to raise pay for both teachers and non-teaching employees within the district.

“I am supportive of any efforts by the Board of Education and our county partners to secure better compensation for our employees within our funding means,” said Dr. Kevin Maxwell, superintendent for the district of nearly 19,000 employees.

Recently, tempers flared when it was discovered that some administrators had received pay raises without the approval of school board members.

Teachers became upset and said it undermined efforts to negotiate higher pay for themselves. The school district counters that talks last November with unionized employees resulted in arrangement that provided for step increases for educators of 3 percent of their salaries and 2 percent raises for those not eligible for those step increases.

Meanwhile, unionized teachers from across the state came together in Annapolis on Monday. They were there to support legislation that would provide additional funding for classrooms and programs they feel are vital to today’s schools.

Carissa Barnes is a special education teacher in Silver Spring. She said some of that additional money could help teachers like herself with teaching assistants in classrooms with special needs children.

They also made a public push for a November ballot issue that would devote more money received by the state from casinos to education.