The school board and the Carroll Association of School Employees came to an impasse in their contract talks yesterday, after several mostly contentious meetings since last month.
"The issue is not pay, it's fair play," said Steven Bittner, chief negotiator for the union, which represents secretaries, instructional assistants and licensed practical nurses.
More than 100 members of the union and leaders of the unions for teachers, food service workers and building and bus workers packed the room and overflowed into the hallway.
The two sides declared an impasse within a half-hour of the start of the session, which was held at the school headquarters, 55 N. Court St. in Westminster.
The board and CASE have indicated during talks that they are willing to settle on the same 3 percent pay increase the other four school employee unions negotiated. But they disagreed on other key issues, mostly affecting seniority and job security.
Chief among the unresolved items are how instructional assistants will be transferred and how CASE employees will be promoted.
Edwin Davis, director of pupil services and the board's representative in talks with CASE, said the board wants to be able to transfer assistants based on the program in which they are trained.
But CASE members want to retain contract language that indicates seniority is the main factor for involuntary transfers of teaching assistants.
Also, CASE wants to add language that says when employees are considered for promotion, the senior employee will get the job if all other qualifications are equal.
Other issues include the appeal process for discipline and discharge of employees, and responsibilities for after-school activities such as school improvement teams.
Those teams are made up of mostly teachers, but often include secretaries or assistants.
The next step will be for Mr. Bittner and Superintendent R. Edward Shilling to ask Nancy Grasmick, state superintendent of schools, to officially declare an impasse.
Dr. Grasmick could decide to send the two sides back to the table, said William Hyde, assistant superintendent for instruction.
If she declares an impasse, the two sides will select an arbitrator and share the cost.