An arbitrator will begin listening today to the differences between the Board of Education and teachers union that led to an impasse in contract negotiations.
This is the second time in three years outside help has been needed to settle issues between the two sides.
The $383.4 million school operating budget, recently forwarded to the County Council by County Executive Robert R. Neall, includes money for step or merit increases for employees. Each step amounts to about a 2 percent pay raise, and about 54 percent of the Board of Education's 6,767 employees would qualify to receive them.
But teachers are upset that they are being asked to forgo cost-of-living raises for a third straight year.
About 3,800 teachers belong to the Teachers Association for Anne Arundel County.
State School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick declared this year's negotiations at an impasse in late March. Negotiations had stalled March 10 after five months of talks.
"The money issue clouded everything," said Donna diGrazia, chief negotiator for the county Board of Education, when the impasse was declared.