ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Dozens of Anne Arundel County teachers gathered together on Monday and rallied against how the public school district is addressing a staffing crisis.
"Enough is enough; enough is enough," about 80 teachers chanted in Annapolis, Maryland, on Monday.
"We're on a sinking ship. You need to help us," said Nicole Disney-Bates, the president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County (TAAC).
The Union represents about 6,200 AACPS employees.
Union members are distressed that Anne Arundel County Public Schools has hired contract employees to fill the gaps in special education and ESOL positions as the school district faces 351 teacher vacancies.
"To hire teachers that don't have the experience and they're bringing them in at tens of thousands of dollars, more than we're making as educators," said Liz Murphy, a special educator for fifteen years in Anne Arundel County Public Schools.
According to a job posting on Indeed.com, a special education teacher opening in Anne Arundel County could make between $48-92,000 per year with benefits like health insurance.
The Board of Education President Joanna Tobin and Superintendent of Schools Mark Bedell defended their position in a statement on Monday.
The duo described the hiring of contract-based teachers as a viable option. They say the workers are not receiving county or state benefits.
"My students, they need consistency," said Murphy, who believes they'll suffer with the hiring of contractors.
Last month, the Maryland State Board of Educationfor the terms of a conditional teacher certificate. Mohammed Choudhury, the State Superintendent of Schools, said it was one of the things they could do in the short term to help with the shortages.
But back in Anne Arundel County, teachers say if they were paid more, there might not be as many vacancies to begin with.
"Let's stop this," Disney-Bates said. "Let's go to the table and let's really talk about how we can fix the educator shortage."
The first day of school for the upcoming school year in Anne Arundel County Public Schools is just two weeks away. Students resume classes on August 29.
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