Schools Delay Contract Talks

November 20, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

Contract talks with teachers and other school workers, which traditionally begin in the fall, have been delayed because of an uncertain economy and because committees are studying insurance and sick-leave proposals that could effect all employees.

"Negotiations haven't been scheduled," said William H. Hyde, assistant superintendent of administration. "We have been studying those issues diligently. We said last year that we would begin negotiations as soon as we concluded studies."

Under study by school and union officials are a worker-proposed health insurance plan, which would differ significantly from current medical coverage, and a union-endorsed proposal for a sick-leave bank,which would allow workers to donate a sick day a year for use by workers who have exhausted their own sick leave.

"It's actually good we're involved with looking at those issues, because both have economic implications," Hyde said. "With uncertainty of state and local economies, it's probably fortunate we aren't at the table discussing economic issues."

Harold Fox, a Maryland State Teachers Association representative serving on the health insurance advisory committee, said both issues have required considerable time for study.

"Obviously, the state funding question is still up in the air," he said. "We feel it might be best to wait awhile until we begin."

Responding tostate and local budget woes, education officials have trimmed about $1.6 million from the county school district's $107 million operatingbudget. Cuts were made to administrative, personnel and other budgets, and, so far, have not affected staffing or instructional programs.

The state is predicting a $700 million budget deficit for fiscal 1993. School officials also are worried the state will pass the cost of teacher Social Security and pension programs on to local jurisdictions. The cost for Carroll would be about $13 million.

Educators are looking at a no-growth budget for fiscal 1993, which begins July 1and would affect contracts for the next school year.

Anticipatingfurther cuts, Superintendent R. Edward Shilling announced last week that the district would begin hiring temporary employees to fill vacant positions. If cuts come, officials can trim temporary staff and avoid extensive cuts to permanent employees.

"We don't really have anything to discuss at this point until we know the final budget cuts from the legislature," said Cindy Cummings, president of the Carroll County Education Association, which represents about 1,300 teachers.

Sharon Fischer, president of Carroll Association of School Employees, which represents about 200 clerical and secretarial workers, assistants and licensed practical nurses, said the delay in negotiations has been a mutual decision.

"Right now we're just waiting to see what's going to happen to the budget and with the legislature," she said.

Don Johnson, president of the local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 230 custodial and maintenance workers and some bus drivers, said he didn't foresee "a very big raise (next) year."

School employees, like county workers, received no pay raises this year.

"We know it's going to be tight," he said. "Everyone is grateful to have job."

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