Spending freeze prevents MCPS from hiring substitutes as teachers
A countywide hiring freeze has caused MCPS to renege on verbal promises made to dozens of prospective teachers.
Participants completing the Millenium Fellows Program, run by The George Washington University in January, were not hired as full-time teachers.
The MCPS hiring freeze has caused many would-be teachers to consider seeking employment in other school systems, according to Assistant Principal Linda Wanner.
The Millenium Fellows Program consists of an 18-month training period during which participants were on the county payroll as long-term substitutes, said Jeanne Embic, the George Washington University coordinator of the program.
According to the Conditions of Award given to participants in the Fellows Program, Montgomery County "may, but is not obligated to, offer employment as a contracted teacher." However, Principal Phillip Gainous stated that "although there was nothing legally binding, both Blair and the folks down at personnel made verbal promises to the students."
The hiring freeze impacts only those substitute teachers whose contracts were to end in January; other participants will be hired in June according to schedule, said Gainous.
Long-term substitutes are given no sick days, no holidays and no benefits and are paid only for a seven-hour workday, according to Monty Mortensen, a Millenium Fellows participant in the Blair math department.
Although Mortensen is not seeking employment outside of Blair, he thinks that the current situation is extremely unfair. "I feel like a real teacher; I don't feel like I'm less than [one]. I do all the typical things teachers do—I just don't get paid for it," he said.
Like other Fellows participants at Blair, Mortensen is opting to hold out for a Blair-based contract because of the attachment he has to his students.
Gainous nevertheless expressed his concerns about Fellows participants leaving Blair. "We put the effort into training these students, and now they're qualified teachers. We baked the cake; now we want a taste," Gainous said.
At the same time, Gainous expressed his sympathy for the situation of substitutes, especially those who had given up another job to come to Blair, with the caveat that they be hired as a teacher later in their career.
Assistant Principal Richard Wilson explained that a hiring freeze was not uncommon. In fact, 20 of the 30 years he has spent in the MCPS system have been marred by such freezes. Such measures prevent Montgomery County from running up the same levels of budget deficits as neighboring counties.
Gainous has personally contacted the Montgomery County Department of Human Resources on numerous occasions to inquire on behalf of the Fellows participants.
The Millenium Fellows Program is aimed primarily at individuals looking to enter the field of teaching from other professions. The Fellows Program, also known as the Teachers 2000 Initiative and the Teacher Corps, initially began as a means of retraining Peace Corps Officers, according to Assistant Principal Carole Working.
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