Frederick and Prince George’s Counties Address School Staffing Challenges

Frederick and Prince George’s Counties have taken steps to address school staffing shortages and burnout via financial and other incentives.

As school systems throughout Maryland continue to struggle with understaffing, burnout, and the myriad of challenges presented by COVID-19 teaching, Frederick and Prince George’s Counties are upping pay and building in more flexible calendar days.

Yesterday, the Frederick County Board of Education voted to  increase minimum pay for all school staff positions and to provide retention incentives for support staff. Currently, the lowest-earning workers in the Frederick County Public Schools make $13.47 per hour. Under the newly approved plan, all staff will be bumped up to at least $15 an hour. The Board also decided to raise substitute teacher pay by $3 an hour.

The Board also approved a motion to build in a series of early dismissal days into the coming months’ schedule in an effort to address concerns of understaffing and burnout.

Additionally, it voted to establish a central platform for organizing community volunteers and to eliminate fingerprinting and uniform costs for new employees.

The Prince George’s County School Board made similar moves to address staffing challenges, recently voting unanimously to revise the school calendar to offer more scheduled planning time and staff wellbeing hours, amid complaints about burnout and mental health.

The school district will now offer three-hour early dismissals for students and staff on December 23, Jan. 21, March 4 and May 13 to allow teachers more  planning and downtime.

Notably, the county’s teacher union says this is a positive step, but does not go far enough. It’s asking that the School Board consider:

  • Evaluating the compensation for substitutes to provide an equitable pay structure that incentivizes accepting short term positions at chronically understaffed schools.
  • Providing administrative assistants with training in special education paperwork and compliance to support and improve the completion of required documentation.
  • Releasing students two hours early every Wednesday to provide additional planning time for educators.

Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Howard schools implemented similar changes earlier this month to address staffing challenges.

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At the MACo Winter Conference session, “Education Equity: Confronting the COVID Gap,” an expert panel will discuss how the emerging challenges and opportunities our students and institutions face coming in the “new normal,” from learning gaps, to inequities in resources and access.

The 2021 MACo Winter Conference, “Time to Reboot: Tomorrow’s Tech Today,” will be held at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, MD from December 8-10.

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