Members expected to approve revealing superintendent pacts

December 10, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Hoping to dispel accusations of secrecy and deceit, th Carroll school board expects to make all superintendent contracts open books from now on.

nTC In a meeting last week with county commissioners, board members proposed a policy that would make it clear from the start that any contract negotiated with a superintendent becomes public record. They introduced the policy to the public at their meeting yesterday and are expected to approve it next month.

Commissioners and citizens had criticized the board for not releasing the full terms of Superintendent R. Edward Shilling's contract when it was negotiated last year.

The salary increases built into Mr. Shilling's contract led to much criticism and hard feelings because teachers and other staff did not get a cost-of-living raise this year. Meanwhile, Mr. Shilling received a raise because it had been negotiated into his contract the year before.

At yesterday's board meeting, member Joseph D. Mish proposed also having the negotiations public, as they are for employee groups in the school system.

Board Vice President Carolyn Scott said she was apprehensive about making the negotiations public because the issue of privacy was different for an individual than for a group of employees.

"It's something I would have to give some thought to," she said. "I'm not convinced it's the way to go."

But none of the board members opposed making the contract public. It is unclear whether state law requires it to be public, she said.

The board's attorneys first said that although Mr. Shilling's salary must be public by law, the details of his contract were a private personnel record, she said.

Once the contract and salary became an issue, Mr. Shilling asked that the contract be released to "take the mystery out" of the controversy.

Shortly afterward, Mrs. Scott said, the board's attorneys said that perhaps the board did not have enough legal basis to keep the contract private after all.

County Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy suggested getting a ruling from the state attorney general's office, but Mrs. Scott said the issue is moot now. Mr. Shilling's contract is public now.

"And future contracts will be an open book," she said.

Mr. Shilling earns $104,626 this year, with raises each year as long as teachers receive step increases. His salary will be $118,126 by the time the contract expires in June 1995.

Two men spoke at yesterday's meeting.

parent, David Greenwalt of Sykesville, said he has known Mr. Shilling since the administrator was principal at Sykesville Middle School.

"The leadership starts at the top," Mr. Greenwalt said, praising Mr. Shilling as a "home-grown product."

On other hand, Wayne Cogswell of Taneytown had harsh words for the board, which he accused of reversing its earlier contention that Mr. Shilling's contract was private.

"You suddenly want the public to think you are reacting to our concerns and want to win back the public," Mr. Cogswell said.

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