After three months of talks, the Anne Arundel County School board and its 4,000 teachers have hit an impasse over a raft of issues led by -- what else? -- money. The teachers, coming off three years of 9 percent salary hikes, want an increase this year, too. Partly as a negotiating ploy, partly in recognition of the county's steadily worsening revenue picture, the union has pared its request to 7 percent from 10 percent. Yet this comes at a time when the county is estimating a 2 percent revenue decline in the next fiscal year.
What is most striking is the school board's insistence that there won't be any raises next year. Rather than dicker about pay hikes that won't be funded by the county executive and county council, the board has opted for arbitration. It is also in the process of cutting School Superintendent Larry L. Lorton's proposed $359.2 million budget.
This is part of new County Executive Robert R. Neall's pattern of sensible adjustments to austerity in Anne Arundel. Mr. Neall's well-known reputation as a tough financial taskmaster has gained him the grudging support of key union officials. He has skillfully persuaded four of the county's six employee unions to extend their contracts until July 1992. With that request comes the not-so-veiled threat that if forced to negotiate this year, the Neall administration would arrive at the bargaining table armed to the teeth with concession demands. Also made abundantly clear was the likelihood of layoffs if county employees demanded pay raises.