Baltimore Co. to Use Surplus, COVID Funds for School Staff Pay Increases

Baltimore County will leverage federal COVID relief funds plus a county budget surplus to provide public school staff with a series of pay enhancements.

Baltimore County Executive Johhny Olszewski and Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) recently announced a new enhanced compensation package for the more than 20,000 public school system employees. In total, the County will invest $76 million in the enhanced one-year compensation package.

County Executive Olszewski and the Baltimore County Council approved a BCPS plan to leverage $34 million in surplus funds as well as funds from BCPS’ allotment of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to pay for the pay increases.

“Education has been and will continue to be our top priority in Baltimore County, and I am proud that we were able come together to announce well-deserved pay raises for our hardworking educators and support employees,” said County Executive Olszewski. “Our students and families deserve a world-class school system, and we remain committed to working with our partners at BCPS, the Board of Education, our union partners, and our colleagues at the County Council to continue to deliver on this promise in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner.”

Under the new plan, all BCPS staff in all bargaining units will see “substantial” pay bumps, ranging from 7 to 11 percent for Fiscal Year 2023.

The package includes:

  • Approximately $13 million for a full-year 3 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for all staff members retroactive to July 1. BCPS employees were previously budgeted for half a year COLA. Employees will receive retroactive COLA increases beginning early 2023;
  • Approximately $30 million in retention bonuses for all staff members;
  • Approximately $20 million for mid-year step increases for all employees, retroactive to July 1. Employees will receive this step increase beginning January 2023; and
  • Additional bonuses for BCPS employees who are at the top of their respective

Move comes as schools struggle to hire and retain staff

Teachers are leaving the profession at a concerning rate around the country, and hiring new public education staff remains a major challenge. Congress and the federal government have even taken interest in the problem.

Every school district in Maryland has struggled to hire and retain public school staff in recent years, and, throughout the state, districts have tested and implemented a combination of strategies to combat the issue. Several have attempted to address the state’s teacher shortage via financial incentives like retention and hiring bonuses, while others have increased minimum pay for school support staff. Others have adjusted school calendars to incorporate more administrative days off and teacher wellness bonus days.

The challenge of school staffing was also a topic of concern during the 2022 legislative session, during which several initiatives to boost hiring and retention of school staff were considered and one bill was passed to provide support staff with $500 bonuses in fiscal years 2023 and 2024 and to study the issue of staffing shortages and pay.

Learn more about the compensation package.

Read more about school staffing challenges and solutions.