Unions fault pay increase for Carroll schools chief

July 31, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Responding to criticism of his recent pay raise, Carroll County School Superintendent R. Edward Shilling has asked the Board of Education to make public his entire contract.

"I simply want to take the mystery out of what's in the contract," Mr. Shilling said at a board meeting yesterday morning. "I've asked them to release that information because I think it's in the best interest of the community and the staff."

With hundreds of employees getting no pay increase this year, union leaders have criticized the board for signing Mr. Shilling to a multi-year contract in 1991 that gave him a $6,000 raise earlier this month, $6,500 next July 1 and $7,000 in July 1994.

Mr. Shilling makes $104,626 a year now and will earn $118,126 by the end of the contract. Although the board last week released his salary figures, it had declined to make public the rest of his contract. The board called that information part of his personnel file and said it was confidential, even though it is public information under state law.

The superintendent's salary ranked in the top third of administrators in the state's 24 school districts for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Figures for this fiscal year still are being compiled by the state Department of Education.

The increases, at a time when other employees got only incremental longevity raises in their existing salary schedules, prompted County Commissioners Julia W. Gouge and Elmer C. Lippy to say they'll seek line-item veto power for future school budgets. But they have not yet approached the Carroll legislative delegation with that request.

Last year, under the Neall Amendment, the General Assembly granted the counties authority to modify school budgets line by line. But that authority expired June 30, before the Carroll commissioners knew what Mr. Shilling's raise would be.

Two Carroll delegates said people they meet on the street support giving the commissioners line-item veto power. They said members of the delegation will meet soon to discuss the issue.

Republican Richard C. Matthews, chairman of the Carroll delegation, said he didn't want to give his opinion because he didn't want to sway his colleagues. He said he wants to hear both sides of the issue.

Del. Richard N. Dixon, a Democrat, said giving the commissioners that power is "a serious matter." He said that most people he talks to say the commissioners should have been told about Mr. Shilling's multi-year raises, which citizens oppose at a time when other employees aren't getting raises.

Union leaders say the raises have affected morale and could undermine the very leadership for which the board is rewarding Mr. Shilling.

"This is not meant to be a personal attack on Mr. Shilling," said Cynthia Cummings, Carroll County Education Association president. "But I represent hundreds of teachers who have had no salary increase for two years. They're resentful."

Each of the five board members praised Mr. Shilling and said he deserves the money.

"Generally, I sit on a tractor seat," said member John D. Myers Jr., owner of a large farm and orchard. "But it's not at all unusual for CEOs to earn this kind of salary in these economic times."

In addition to the raises, the contract contains these provisions:

* A buy-out clause that would pay Mr. Shilling all the salary and benefits in the contract even if he is fired.

* Matching Mr. Shilling's contributions to the Maryland State Retirement System -- 7 percent of his salary, or $8,200 this year.

* Contributions to a tax-sheltered annuity plan -- $5,000 this year, $7,000 in 1993 and $9,500 in 1994.

* The same vacation, sick leave and benefits as other administrators, plus an additional 25 days of annual leave each year.

Mrs. Cummings has sent a letter to board President Cheryl A. McFalls asking the panel to "reconsider the wisdom of these decisions."

Teachers especially are upset because the board has denied their requests for multi-year contracts the past two years.

In addition to Mr. Shilling's raise, the board gave a $3,000 increase to Deputy Superintendent Brian Lockard, whose duties have been enlarged. Mrs. Cummings said several teachers have taken on extra work with no raise.

Mrs. McFalls defended the superintendent's leadership and said he successfully pushed for the county to rescind the two furlough days it had imposed on school and county employees last year.

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