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Bonuses on the way for Howard County teachers

Staff shortages test system during Omicron outbreak
Bonuses on the way for Howard County teachers
Posted at 2:35 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 17:36:00-05

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — A spike from Omicron and a commitment to teaching in-person have tested educators in Howard County, some of whom have fallen ill themselves or have had to quarantine.

“I don’t think people understand,” said Colleen Morris of the Howard County Educators Association. “We have educators in a building. From smaller buildings, we have 10 to 20 absences, and from larger buildings 20 to 40 absences, and because we have a sub shortage, we also don’t have the coverage.”

Recognizing the challenges of teachers and their support staffs, today Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano announced the board of education has decided to follow County Executive Calvin Ball’s lead in rewarding them, financially.

“All Howard County Public School System employees will receive a public education commitment bonus this year,” announced HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano.

The $1800 bonuses will go to more than 8,000 school employees---half in a few weeks and the other half near the end of June.

The bonuses will cost $16 million and the school system and the county are sharing the cost---the largest contribution from a local government to its school system for this purpose in the state, all to try to stem the tide of retirements and people leaving the classroom amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Two weeks ago, I got 12 calls about how to retire, how to resign and we’ve been fielding those calls every week,” said Morris. “So it’s been extremely difficult. So this bonus is well-deserved, and we’re super excited that our county could work together to provide it.”