For the second year in a row, the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County and the Board of Education have failed to reach an agreement in contract negotiations.
And, for the second straight year, TAAAC and the school board have sent a joint letter to State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick, requesting that she declare an impasse between the two groups and allow a third party to mediate the differences.
"Part of the problem is the recession," said TAAAC president Thomas J. Paolino. "But part of the problem is also the board's attitude that they are going to make absolutely no concessions."
Board members were in meetings last night and could not be reached for comment.
Negotiations between TAAAC and the Board of Education broke off Jan. 30 over many of the same issues that deadlocked negotiations lastyear.
In dispute are the teachers' salary scale, personal leave days, planning time, PTA attendance and the length of the work year for department chairmen and media specialists.
"Other than the salary increases, we're not asking for anything more," Paolino said. "We just can't support these rollbacks and take-aways the board wants.
"They're asking teachers, especially elementary teachers to do more and more but giving them no time for individual planning. We're sayingteachers need planning time during the student day and the board is saying 'tough'."
Last year TAAAC agreed to forgo a cost-of-living adjustment. But Paolino said the threat of furlough days and the recession have forced teachers to seek a salary increase.
The last raise county teachers received two years ago was a 9 percent increase, which placed their salaries between fifth and seventh highest in the state. Paolino said teachers are now about 8 percent behind in cost-of-living increases.
Negotiations between TAAAC and the Board of Education began Sept. 30, only a few weeks after about half of the county 4,200 teachers agreed to accept a two-year contract with a board they called "unyielding."
Then, the board agreed to allow guidance counselors to remain 12-month employees instead of reducing them to 10-month employees. And, while teachers agreed to no salary increases last year, they made it known it was not a decision they were happy about.
Many ill feelings remained after last year's negotiations. Paolino said he is hopeful, yet unsure, if the animosity has carried into negotiations.
"I'm hoping the board is just overacting to the (fiscal) crisis, but I'm beginning to develop a real concern," Paolinosaid. "Our relationship is good when it's something they want to work on. But they don't seem to be willing to make any real movement in this case."