For the first time in the school board's history, it will have to goto costly arbitration with all its employee unions.
The four unions -- representing principals, teachers, secretaries and assistants, school bus drivers and custodians -- are at an impasse, and their leaders have labeled school negotiators unyielding.
The Association of Education Leaders, which represents 250 countyadministrators and coordinators, became the last group to break off talks when it walked away from the bargaining table Friday.
"I think the entire negotiating team was very discouraged that we were not able to reach a resolution," said Barry Fader, president of AEL. "We felt that we were very close to getting that tied up this past Friday. We went in with no request for pay increases because we wanted to work with the board."
The AEL wanted a three-year contract, with salary increases delayed until the economy improves and negotiations begin with other school unions. School board negotiators offered a one-year deal, with a stipulation for addressing raises next school year.
School board negotiator Donna diGrazia said bargaining stalled onthe money items, whether for salaries or contract items that may have financial implications.
"We have to look at what's going on and be thankful we don't have layoffs," diGrazia said. "We talked about afew things, resolved a few things. Now it is down to issues the unions feel strongly about."
Fader said he is willing to return to thetable to save taxpayers money, if the board is willing to address non-fiscal contract issues. He said the AEL walked away from the table after the school board refused to budge on five items that are not tied to economic problems:
* The right to collect shop fees from non-members whenever a grievance is filed on their behalf by AEL.
* Athree-year contract with no increase for this year, but a supplemental request by the board to the county if another group receives a payincrease.
* Continuing provisions that specify a 37 1/2-hour workweek for AEL members.
* The right for AEL to to file a grievance as a union on the behalf of individuals who may be otherwise intimidated. Now only individuals may file.
* The inclusion of special education students in the total school count which affects principal pay.
AEL members also declared an impasse in January on an unsettled issue under the current contract that calls for an established differential to maintain distance between the salaries of principals and teachers.
Three weeks ago, talks broke with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents 1,292 custodians, cafeteria workers and school bus drivers.
Members of the Secretaries and Assistants Association of Anne Arundel County walked away from contract negotiations in January after school officials rejected a deal to trade pay raises for job security. The two sides were able to settle on only 16 of 48 items.
SAAAAC, like AEL, is seeking a contract that would allow them to charge non-members for grievances are filed on their behalf by the union. It also is seeking bindingarbitration.
The critical issues involve raises for secretaries and assistants, who union president Dee Zepp said are severely underpaid. However, she said, the members would be willing to trade the money for a contract that would tie transfers and layoffs to seniority.
"If it's a year where there is a financial crunch, that's the year you should hammer out contract language," Zepp said. "It doesn't costthe Board of Education bucks. In some cases it is only a word that we want to have changed."
Negotiations with the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County broke down Feb. 14.