Gebhart Takes Pay Claim To State School Board

Vo-tech Principal Appeals County's Denial Of Salary Raise

December 18, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

The principal of Carroll's vo-tech school, hoping to bring his salary in line with the heads of the county's five high schools, pleaded his case before the state Board of Education yesterday.

Robert L. Gebhart, Carroll County Career and Technology Center principal, wants the state board to reverse the decisions of the five-member Carroll Board of Education and an administrative law judge that denied his request for more money.

"All he is looking for is to play on a level playing field," attorney Paul Engel, representing Gebhart, told the 11-member state board.

The principals of the county's high schools are paid according to the district's 16-step scale for administrators and supervisors.

A high school principal with a staff of 80 or more, for example, receives a base salary of $47,599 to $62,748 yearly. A principal with a staff of up to 79 earns $45,591 to $60,746 a year. The principals mayreceive additional pay, depending on their length of service and training.

Gebhart, who has served as vo-tech principal since 1977 andoversees a staff of about 38, falls into the next highest category. The salary range in his category is $43,589 to $58,740; however, Gebhart receives $64,119, due to the length of his tenure.

The 61-year-old Westminster resident contends that although his day-to-day duties may differ from those of high school principals, they are no less important or demanding.

Representing the Carroll board, attorney Rochelle S. Eisenberg argued that panel did not act "arbitrarily" in denying Gebhart's request to be moved up on the pay scale. She said theissue of pay for a vo-tech principal may be "fairly debated," but debate doesn't warrant overturning the board decision.

"It is not a William Kennedy Smith trial where we have to decide who's telling thetruth," she said.

In making its decision, the state board is limited to determining whether a local board violated its own regulationsor civil rights laws, said Larry Chamblin, a state Department of Education spokesman.

The pay issue stems from a school staff decisionto move high school principals to a higher scale in August 1989. Gebhart's pay level, however, remained the same. He appealed to the Carroll school board, which denied his request in January 1991.

An administrative judge sided with the Carroll board last summer.

"It isour belief that the Carroll Board of Education and the administrative law judge did not take into consideration the duties Mr. Gebhart has," Engel said.

He outlined Gebhart's duties, which range from oversight of about 500 students -- 250 during both morning and afternoonsessions -- making security checks at the school during evenings, weekends and holidays, and working with the businesses and community groups that have formed partnerships with the school.

Eisenberg saidthere are vast differences between the duties of the vo-tech principal and those of the county's high school principals. A high school principal, for example, is responsible for a staff of at least 73, while the vo-tech principal oversees a staff of 38, she said.

High school principals, she said, are responsible for 750 to 2,000 students aday, as compared with 500 at the vo-tech school.

Chamblin said itwould be at least a month before the state board makes a decision.

None of the state board members questioned Engel or Eisenberg during the 30-minute hearing.

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