Criticizing the school board as "totally unreasonable" and "unwilling to show any compassion," the county teachers association broke off contract talks Friday and will seek the help of a state mediator.

Thomas J. Paolino, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, said that talks did not break down over money, but over non-fiscal items such as the allocation of hours and the installation of emergency call buttons in class rooms.

"We had lengthy discussions," he said, "most over non-fiscal items because we took into consideration the economic downturn and recession. We withdrew all items that would be new programs."

Paolino said the next step is to send a letter to state schools Superintendent Joseph L. Shilling, asking him to declare an impasse in contract negotiations. If he does, a three-member arbitration panel will be sent in to negotiate.

Talks between the union and board have been underway since

Oct. 26. Paolino said teacher salaries are not at issue. He said county teachers won't be getting pay raises next year. The current three-year contract expires June. 30.

School board officials could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

Among the unresolved issues are:

* Providing time for teachers to prepare lessons by eliminating administrative and clerical duties that do not contribute to instruction.

* A guarantee that teachers will have access tooffice photocopiers, typewriters and duplicating machines.

* Upgrading the public-address system so emergency call buttons are installed in each classroom for safety reasons.

"We were very disappointed because we felt that the board was totally unreasonable and that inthis time of economic downturn that some of the non-fiscal items could have been agreed to," Paolino said. "They just were unwilling to show any movement or compassion."

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