The Carroll County Education Association is asking the school board to increase teachers' salaries by a "conservative" 8 percent next year.

"We understand the current economic situation," said Maureen A.Dincher, CCEA president. "However, this amount is what we feel we need to make up for the loss that we took last year."

Dincher said the 5 percent raise given to Carroll's 1,250 teachers last year was eaten up by inflation and the increased cost of health insurance.

The majority of Carroll's instructors make somewhere between $22,414 -- the annual wage for beginning teachers -- and about $45,000, the annual amount paid to those with master's degrees and 25 years experience.

The school board, represented by its counsel,Edward J. Gutman, during negotiations, has offered teachers and other school workers, including custodians and secretaries, a 3 percent wage hike for the next school year, which begins July 1.

Gutman could not be reached for comment on the CCEA proposal.

Dincher said the 8 percent wage hike is the lowest raise teachers have ever placed on the negotiating table.

"This is the amount we feel we need to keep us competitive with surrounding counties," Dincher said. "It's what we decided it would take to keep us at the level we had been and from taking another loss."

Board representatives have not yet commented on a insurance counter-proposal unveiled by the associations more than a week ago.

The "comprehensive multiple-option plan" soughtby the associations would allow the district's 2,000 insured workers to chose from three plans for health coverage. The package would encourage workers to choose the most cost-efficient providers by means of lower deductibles and co-payments.

The associations did not know how much the plan would cost the county.

"Our position is that the health insurance issue is one that we need to take a look at together -- to use all of our combined resources to work out the problems with the spiraling cost of insurance," Dincher said.

Current contracts expire June 30. Negotiations began in November.

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