Impasse declared in teachers' talks


Maryland school Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick has declared an impasse in negotiations between the Anne Arundel County school board and the teachers union, and directed them to hire an arbitrator.

The initial request for a formal declaration of impasse came two weeks ago from the union, which accused the school board of going "beyond union-busting."

Among the issues in dispute are a cost-of-living raise; a longer workweek and year; procedures used in assigning, transferring, evaluating and rating teachers; the teachers' right to participate in writing new curricula; and selection of health-care plans.

In addition, union officials say the school board wants to remove a provision they just won in previous negotiations that requires school administrators to notify a teacher if a student is transferred to his or her class because of violent behavior in another class.

John Kurpjuweit, president of the 4,500-member Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, said the school board's negotiator "did nothing except deliver a message of 'no.' "

Michael A. Pace, president of the eight-member school board, said the declaration of an impasse was "disappointing."

"We were hoping we could continue in good-faith negotiations," Mr. Pace said. "Now that the decision is made, we will participate in arbitration."

He would not say whether the school board would abide by an arbitrator's ruling. Arbitration is nonbinding.

"I won't get into the specifics of the contract, but as far as the business of 'no,' that's not true," Mr. Pace said. "If we said 'yes' to every demand, we wouldn't need negotiation. Yes, we're saying 'no,' to some things. Otherwise, we could just write a blank check, and that wouldn't be responsible. We made a number of concessions, and apparently it wasn't enough."

School and union officials said they did not know how quickly an arbitrator could be hired.

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