In City Schools, as in school districts across the country, “people costs” make up by far the biggest part of the district’s expense budget.

To attract and retain highly qualified and talented teachers and staff, City Schools offers attractive salaries and generous benefits. As is the case nationwide, costs related to healthcare benefit on the rise, and our revenue hasn’t kept pace.

Compared to other similar districts, City Schools offers more generous salaries and benefits.



Between FY16 and FY18, City Schools expects an increase of $46 million in salaries and benefits, with a decrease in the number of vacancies factored in. 

15 thoughts on “Salary & Benefits

  1. anonymous Reply

    I am sad to see that so many are willing to throw out the model and lead pathway as a way to reduce costs. I would assume these are staff that have not taken the time and effort to become model. It takes months to prepare and many do not make it the first time. The numbers show it is a commitment to our students, to doing the work and continuing to work above and beyond. Don’t express sour grapes over someone else’s achievement.
    I do think that it requires some tweaking as I have heard teachers can move to model in less than 3 years of employment. I think that before someone can apply for model they should have to have been a BCPSS employee for 5 years. That would assure that they have the experience as well as the talent for the model designation. At this time I am thinking that it is much less time. ( I cannot find the exact number on the sites to say exactly.)
    I have no problem paying a little more for my insurance coverage. However please note we are state employees. Are our benefits in line with other state offices? I would hesitate to say the hard working teachers deserve less than other state employees.
    I also think that we need to rethink waste and expenses. Re look at boundaries and consider if the cost of keeping a small school open is worth the costs of running another older building. Consider tightening transportation costs and Temporary support Aid costs. I know in some of the schools I have worked in getting transportation services and TSA’s are easy and they are used way too long as it is not monitored. Have the city decide on a reading program, Purchase the entire program and then use it with fidelity and with a length of time to evidence effectiveness before throwing it out.

    Stop hiring very expensive leadership , deciding we don’t like them and then paying them to leave.

    “Santelises’ appointment as the city schools CEO formally begins July 1. Her four-year contract will pay her $298,000 per-year and mirrors that of former schools CEO Gregory Thornton, who left the district Friday just two years into his four year contract and with a year’s pay of his $290,000 annual salary. Baltimore Sunpaper.

    Like any other job. If you cant do it you have to go. If you go you don’t get paid. Making a contract that pays someone 290,000 to leave?

  2. Anonymous Reply

    A key problem of the Model Pathway is that it rewards completing professional development training sessions, which via rigorous evaluation and study, have been shown to have virtually no correlation with student outcomes. Teacher advancement must be fiscally sustainable, and dependent upon outcomes, not inputs.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Only 20% of a model applicant’s submission is based on professional development. It’s not enough to simply show that you’ve participated in professional development opportunities. You must also show that you’ve applied what you learned to your teaching AND show meaningful results/impact. The other 80% of the submission is a combination of exceeding expectations around data (30%), leadership (with proven effects) within a school or the district (20%), as well as exceptional instruction and planning (30%). A teacher, in theory, could make model without scoring any points in the area of professional development.

  3. Michelle Reply

    It would be short-sighted to eliminate the Model Pathway because it was designed to keep the highest-performing teachers in classrooms which is what kids and schools need. From the data on the first 10 cohorts, there are only 378 (plus the ones who earned it Fall 2016) who advanced to Model through the portfolio process. Even if the ‘grandfathered’ Models are added in, this is small number compared to the total number of teachers, which I think is a little over 5,000. I did try to find the current number and the only thing on the About Us page of city schools now is data on students and numbers of schools.

    Rather than have it ‘go away’ as the chatter seems to be suggesting, there are a few updates that could be made that would keep it viable and add rigor back. Model teachers should be required to do more to support their schools and colleagues for the additional salary. This was the way it was originally envisioned – to keep talented teachers in the classroom and have them mentor/coach/lead PD in their schools without feeling like they had to step into admin roles. But somewhere along the way (probably the 2013 contract renegotiation) all of the additional duties were eliminated – the evidence of which is still on the Model Pathways site ( In strike-through. If this was motivated by some principals taking advantage of Model teachers, then put in safe-guards to prevent this from happening (ex. Models may be asked to do no more than 3 of the duties described).

    The other thing that has to be re-instated for the integrity of the process is that every Model should have to go through a review every 3-5 years to confirm that they are still exceeding expectations for student learning and that they are still contributing to their school communities. Redoing the full portfolio seems like a waste of time, but there should be some examination of data to confirm teachers truly have a value-added in the system. Grandfathered Models should have to do this well. Teachers that are truly Model won’t mind going through this review, and those who don’t want to do the review would have their pay adjusted in some way.

    There are a myriad of other options that should be considered before eliminating the Model Pathway, some of which are: make models take larger class sizes because they have proven successful with kids; reallocate models to highest needs schools when they pass portfolio process (or they decline and stay where they are on the salary scale). There are similar things that can be done with AUs – get rid of the ‘easy’ ways to earn them and make them mean something. Maybe you get more AUs if you are at one of the highest needs schools, maybe more for a high needs content area?

  4. Anonymous Teacher Reply

    I believe that the district should no longer carry a very low deductible health care insurance plan for staff and teachers. I believe that we should have a high deductible health care program, and have teachers cover more of the cost.

    Almost every other business has moved away from these extremely comprehensive health insurance programs. They are an unreasonable expense and are a major reason why these budget crises continually occur. Also, the district should role back pay because some of the teachers and staff are making a little too much. Teachers should be capped at 80,000. Teachers who care about kids in Baltimore will continue to do their great work.

    • Anonymous Teacher's Spouse Reply

      I think that changes need to be made at the health care level. But, remember, it’s not the teachers fault that these health care companies are charging ridiculous rates and increasing them every year.

      To increase the co-insurance rates teachers pay, and to increase the co-pay amounts would be very unfair and damaging to teachers that have chosen this career despite the obvious problems with the school district management overall. I would propose for the 2018 benefit year, negotiating with BC/BS and others a plan with higher co-pays that will lower the costs to BCPSS and keep the co-insurance rates the same for the teachers. The district would save money, and only the teachers who run to the doctor if they get a splinter or something else minor would have to pay more in co-pays. The “normal” person will go to the doctor maybe twice a year. Once for an annual physical, and maybe once due to illness. So what if they have to pay $10 or even $20 per visit versus the current $5 co-pay. The ones who “over-utilize” the health system will either bear the burden of those “extra” visits, or will more carefully think before they jump out to the doctor for prescriptions because they have had a headache for a day.

  5. City Schools Waste Reply

    Get rid of the Network Staff as they are overpaid and ineffective. I am not sure how we benefit from them, most of the staff know little about anything research-based to support schools; there are more competent teachers un schools.

  6. B'More Thoughtful Reply

    There are two approaches to salaries:
    1) Offer high salaries in order to compensate teachers for the unique challenges of working in Baltimore City schools. This is a “get bodies in the room for the current year” approach. We see headlines yearly about whether or not City Schools was able to fill all the teacher chairs on day one. This is short-sighted.

    2) Offer average salaries, but reinvent Baltimore City Schools such that classrooms are pleasant, joyful, and invigorating places to work and stay. This will require not only downsizing Baltimore City’s portfolio of schools, but also investing citywide in the community school model, and investing in education models and resources that are successful for kids and attractive to parents (Montessori, STEM, music magnets, placed-based curriculum, arts integration, etc.)

    There are other changes the district can make for smaller sustainability strides in the smaller fiscal sphere: rethink pathway model, new union contracts, increase employee cost sharing for healthcare and Rx premiums, contributory pension model for all employees, combine City and City Schools healthcare pools, etc.

    The latter is not only more sustainable, but it invests not only in teachers, but in students


    Freezing salaries and eliminating the potential for career advancement in City Schools will certainly drive away current and potential staff, as will the prospect of “teaching” 40+ students at a time. I personally know many young teachers–some of which are already at their breaking point–for whom salary considerations was THE decisive factor in their choosing to work in Baltimore, with all of its issues, over neighboring counties or states. Point blank, you need cash incentives to attract and retain “highly-qualified and talented teachers and staff” to work in and reverse the fortunes of a hurt city with skyrocketing property values and a rent bubble, money being that which talks in this country.

    Thus, I find it nauseating that North Avenue would seek to close its budget shortfall at the expense of staff rather than, say, raising hell about all of the money they’ve been shorted by the state or reconsidering its construction projects, none of which will likely go untouched by the fraud that mired, say, the Roland Park ES/MS roof debacle. Even should BCPS come up with some cash to offset the losses, I fear Santelises’ memo is sufficient to cause extensive symbolic damage; why should a motivated, talented young professional even consider Baltimore given the very public manner in which its CEO just depreciated its “greatest assets”? Our kids need these people; you’re scaring them away.

    We might as well end the doublespeak and be real here: if the proposed layoffs go through, City Schools will have been complicit with Hogan’s plan to make Baltimore completely unlivable for its majority, thereby literally and figuratively clearing the land for developers and a small, private-school patronizing minority. Those with the option to do so will probably leave; those without options (i.e. the kids and parents) will be neglected out of existence.

  8. Justin Kuk Reply

    Anonymous – Research has consistently shown that the quality of the teacher in the classroom is the number one predictor of student success. I hope that I misunderstood your suggestion to “eliminate the model and lead teachers.” If you mean model and lead teachers should be the first to be laid off since they earn the highest salaries, it is a foolish and short-sighted recommendation. Model and lead status was earned through a rigorous process in which teachers demonstrated that they are leading students to academic gains that surpass expectations. Eliminating these teachers to bring in new teachers and reduce salary costs would have a damaging effect on student achievement. There is already an achievement gap when comparing Baltimore City Schools to more affluent districts, so let’s fire the teachers that are actually making significant gains with their students? What successful business or organization would lay-off their highest functioning employees? I hope your suggestion is to simply remove the model and lead pathways from the contract to prevent future jumps in salary costs. That is at least a defensible position. Laying off the highest performing teachers is not.

  9. Silence Dogood Reply

    It’s important to recognize that the salary is a shrinking part of the compensation. My school uses the number $93,000 for the AVERAGE compensation during budgeting. That includes health care and pension. This means a teacher with five years experience and a masters degree is probably getting another $20,000 to $30,000 in benefits.

    I agree that it’s nice to keep a fancy benefits plan with a decent pension, but it’s important for us to recognize just how big these costs are. They’re not just a few extra dollars. They’re often equivalent to a 50-60% raise.

  10. Anonymous Reply

    In my own point of view, We rather have to maintain the health provider like blue cross/ shield for the teachers well being sustainability out from their pockets. The district can always find good ways to keep the teachers who are highly qualified/certified because they are the most important factors and tools of the students learning. The District maybe can eliminate the model teachers and lead teachers since they are the one who took a lot of money from the districts’ budget. A 3 year-old teacher in service will leap to model teacher from $ 45 thousand a year to $90 thousand. It’s sometimes really unfair for those teachers who rendered more then 10 years in the district, but then the salary is moving up too slow. Network people can be eliminated as well since they have also a big chunk of their salary from the districts budget. The District can form like a network by using the principals as the functioning factors for teachers and students learning improvements. We should also consider the ratio of the SPED students having a PARA in the classroom. Some PARAS are not in the classroom but are used in different tasks in the school.

  11. Anonymous Reply

    I also agree that the district needs to keep the Blue Cross/Shield health care provider, and yes I do not mind paying a little bit more for my healthe benefits. However, the employee cost portion has risen over the years as well. And I do not want to see tremendous increases in the out of pocket cost for teachers.
    The district really needs to look at abolishing the career pathways for model and lead teachers. One of the main reasons for creeating this model was to create school based teacher leaders that assist schools with supporting students, teachers ,and adminstrators, through additional responsibiitiles and duties. Which would eleviate the need for additional staffing for out of the classroom positions. This has not happened in most cases, which has led to a costly agreement that the district can not sustain.

  12. Steven Martinez Reply

    Until teachers and students are learning in a lead free, air-conditioned, and heated building, the benefits need to remain the same.

  13. Kim Huddler Reply

    I have been a city school employee for 20 yrs and the health benefits are excellent and the price for the employee has been manageable as well. I would agree costs are increasing for health insurance, and I feel if we can keep the health care provider (Blue Cross/Care First) but increase the costs for the employee…no one should complain. It will be an adjustment in take home pay, but knowing we can remain healthy is a benefit worth paying for. I realize I am not talking for all teachers, but I am willing to pay more and I am willing to explain my reasoning to complaining employees.

    I also feel the AU program the city developed has cost the city much more than they anticipated. If the city wants to keep the program then I think there should be a limit on how many AU’s an employee can submit in a school year. This should limit some of the cost yearly.

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