Anne Arundel County school principals will get their longevity raises after all.
The union and the county school board reached an agreement on the sensitive issue before noon yesterday, when the principals agreed to drop a lawsuit and the board agreed to grant the raise.
"I think it's a fair offer, and if the board approves it [Wednesday] afternoon, we'll have a contract we can live with," said Donald M. Smith, president of the Association of Educational Leaders, which represents about 250 principals and school administrators.
The school board is scheduled to meet today at 10 a.m.
The principals were the last of four unions representing school employees to reach a settlement on the sensitive longevity raise issue.
The labor dispute began in June when the school board declared that by cutting the education budget from $444 million to $408 million, the County Council left the board with no money for the longevity raises, which are given solely for length of service.
The board contended that lack of full funding gave it the right to renegotiate on the longevity issue.
But council members and unions leaders maintained that the council had provided money for the raises by cutting health care benefits, and the unions were willing to negotiate on that point.
The unions initially refused to negotiate.
Two weeks ago, the three unions representing teachers, secretaries and school maintenance workers agreed to concessions in the health care package in exchange for the longevity raises. The Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County also agreed to drop grievances lodged against the board.
AEL filed suit, contending the school board breached its contract. The board said the issue would be settled in court and last week asked a circuit judge to determine which portions of the contract it did have the right to renegotiate.
But over the Labor Day weekend, the board relented, and offered AEL the same financial package that was offered to other unions.
"I think we can put all this behind us, and go forward with good dialogue between the board and our union," Mr. Smith said last night.
The unions are scheduled to begin negotiations on new contracts this fall.