Carroll's 1,200 teachers rejected the school board's tentative one-year contract last week, saying that a late school board move to increase salaries for beginning teachers would have been unfair to veteranteachers who had already agreed to a pay freeze for next year.
Members of the Carroll County Education Association rejected the pact by a 3-to-1 margin Thursday.
"We had already agreed not to have pay increases," said Harold Fox, the teachers' main negotiator. "They didn't bring the issue of higher beginning pay up at the table. After all was said and done, the higher pay proposal was just outrageous."
Teachers in April had agreed to accept no pay increase for the 1991-1992 school year. While several items on the one-year accord have been in arbitration since April, teachers at the time were prepared to ratify the contract.
Some of those issues -- to be discussed by mediators beginning July 11 -- include implementing a smoke-free workplace, studying the formationof a sick-leave bank and renegotiating insurance coverage and other benefits.
The teachers' contract expires tomorrow. The board did not decide whether to extend the contract until a new agreement could be reached. The board also had not decided whether to make any agreement retroactive to tomorrow. The expiration will not affect the startof summer school, since state law prohibits teacher strikes.
During a special school board meeting Friday morning, Superintendent R. Edward Shilling and board members expressed surprise at the teachers' overwhelming rejection of a pact they thought already had been agreedupon.
"With the whole tentative agreement, I am now really confused on why the contract was not agreed upon," said board member CherylA. McFalls.
After the board's approval of raising first- and second-year salaries during their June 12 meeting, the teachers' union publicly acknowledged that the action jeopardized the tentative agreement reached just a month before.
First-year salaries were raised from $22,414 to $23,370 and second-year teachers pay was raised from $23,311 to $24,000.
Under the existing contract with the CCEA, the school board maintains it has the right to set -- without negotiation -- beginning teachers' salaries.
Despite the contract's rejection,both the CCEA and board hope to have an agreement soon.
"They've got their agenda, we've got our agenda, but we're hoping to have thiswrapped up so we're all in agreement," Shilling said.
Teacher negotiator Fox agreed.
"Teachers are here to serve kids," he said. "And I do intend to do all I can do to resolve the issues and come up with a contract everyone can live with."
In other action Friday morning, the school board's recently revealed School Improvement Plan may be delayed because of uncertainty in the state's graduation requirements.
During it regular monthly meetings in Baltimore last week, the state Board of Education did not decide on a final list of graduation requirements.
The county's improvement plan is tied directly to the state guidelines, and, Shilling told Carroll's board, the making of recommendations to the state is not as urgent as it was earlierthis year.
"They won't have anything to give back to us in the form of recommendations until the fall," Shilling said of the state board.
Among the proposed state graduation requirements still under discussion include mandating language proficiency, eliminating some fine and practical arts training or adjusting citizenship or volunteer service requirements.
Shilling said that should the state's requirements exceed the number of credits students can achieve in the course of the school year, a lengthening of the school day should be looked at.
"You've only got so much time in a school day," he said. "Ifwe expand requirements, then we need to expand the amount of time ina school day."