Board seeks more flexibility on teacher layoffs


The Board of Education yesterday proposed a layoff system for teachers based on evaluations and other criteria -- not just seniority -- in its first talks with the union on a new contract.

By the time teachers hear about it today, they'll be angry, said Harold Fox, chief negotiator for the Carroll County Education Association.

"What they're saying is they can pick and choose who they want," Mr. Fox said. "They could lay off all the senior teachers and . . . save a lot of money."

He said the proposal would eliminate job security for senior teachers, even though many of them already score well on evaluations.

About 700 of Carroll's approximately 1,450 teachers are at the top of the pay scale, Mr. Fox said. The average teacher salary is $36,000.

Edward Gutman, the board's lawyer and chief negotiator, said board members debated whether to propose changing the contract language on layoffs.

"Excellence is what we're looking to obtain," Mr. Gutman said. "The fact is, the oldest of us is not always the best of us."

"The oldest have sacrificed the most" by putting several years into the system, Mr. Fox said. "In the case of cutbacks, their security lies in this language."

Board of Education contracts with all five unions representing school employees end June 30. Negotiations are expected to conclude in time for the April 14 school board meeting.

The board wants to decide at that meeting how much more money to request from the county commissioners to finance negotiated pay raises. That amount would be in addition to the $118 million budget request the board already has submitted for 1993-1994.

Also yesterday, the teachers union requested a two-year contract with a 7 percent salary increase each year.

Mr. Gutman offered a 1 percent increase and a one-year contract, which would mean negotiations again next spring.

"The 7 percent you're proposing, as far as I'm concerned, is not obtainable," Mr. Gutman told union officials.

Also, the board wants to make the contract contingent on the county and state fully funding their budget requests. If the budgets are not funded, the board wants the right to renegotiate the contracts, Mr. Gutman said.

The teachers' 7 percent request was consistent with those from administrators, clerical staff and food service workers. The union representing maintenance workers and bus drivers asked for a 6 percent increase.

The teachers and board did agree on one item: insurance. As it has with other unions, the board offered to keep insurance premiums at the current formula. The school system now pays 100 percent of the premiums for individuals and 95 percent for family plans.

Mr. Fox said that he was encouraged by the agreement on insurance, but was dismayed at the "give-backs" the board wants from the teachers.

He said the board proposed the language two years ago that would make layoffs contingent on evaluations and other criteria.

"They got a very negative reaction," Mr. Fox said. "And I guarantee it's going to be twice as negative this time."

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