School board, unions discuss cuts in benefits No accord reached

talks will continue

April 02, 1996|By Donna Engle | Donna Engle,SUN STAFF

Tuesday's Carroll County edition of The Sun incorrectly reported the proposed county allocation for the 1996-1997 school operating budget. The county school board is asking county government for $78.3 million toward an operating budget of $140 million.

The Sun regrets the error.

Representatives of five Carroll County school employee unions and the county school board reached no immediate resolution yesterday afternoon in "give-back" talks that are likely to cost the employees all or part of the pay raises to which the board already has agreed.

Negotiators met for three hours yesterday and agreed to meet again April 11 to discuss the two issues on the table: a 3 percent cost-of-living raise and employee's share of health insurance costs.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

The negotiations are being conducted behind closed doors, a departure from the usual procedure in county school employee talks. Representatives of both sides said they believed the issues could be resolved faster in private talks.

Both sides agreed to a news blackout while talks continue.

Edmund O'Meally, chief negotiator for the school board, assessed yesterday's session this way: "I think everyone understands where everyone is and we know where we have to be to get to [the cost reduction goal]."

Harold Fox, chief negotiator for the teachers union, said the rules barred him from disclosing anything, including whether he left the session feeling optimistic about a potential agreement.

Union representatives have reached a consensus to renegotiate their contracts in the face of severe budget restrictions. At school budget hearings, parents lobbied the school board not to cut programs for instrumental music or gifted students.

School system officials say they can reduce costs by $2.5 million by renegotiating salary and health insurance provisions, which will bring the 1996-1997 budget down to the $140 million allocated by the County Commissioners.

School system employees don't contribute toward health insurance payments for themselves, although they pay part of the cost for dependents.

The unions involved in the talks represent teachers, administrators and supervisors, clerical workers, custodial and maintenance workers and food service workers.

The Board of Education, with 2,544 employees, is the largest employer in Carroll County, according to a county public information office report.

Pub Date: 4/02/96

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