Given the financial situation facing CCPS and assuming no significant changes to state funding formulas or commissioner funding support, where does improving teacher salaries rank as a priority for you and why? If you believe it needs improvement, how do you propose doing so?
Helton: Recruiting and retaining quality teachers is a top priority of mine, and in order to do that, they must be compensated generously in the best of circumstances, or at the very least, fairly. I am deeply disturbed in talking with my own children’s teachers, that they must sometimes take a second or even third job to be able to make ends meet. A teacher is already expected to teach during the day, work from home on grading, lesson planning, and various other tasks, and be a part of their own families. It’s not fair that they are compensated so poorly that they need to consider additional employment, just to own a home or pay off their own school debt. The teachers of Carroll County went far too long without pay increases, and we need to ensure the CCPS honors the agreement recently made that corrects that disservice. At the very least, teachers deserve annual cost of living increases. I feel that CCPS need to look at its budget extremely carefully, look for alternative cost-saving measures that don’t require closing more schools and practice good, fiscal responsibility that allows for teachers to get the increases they deserve. CCPS should also look at other incentives such as Student Loan Repayment to assist in recruiting and retaining quality educators.