Teachers union still planning no-confidence vote on Smith

Balloting set for Nov. 2 to express dissatisfaction, even though superintendent will leave post next month


Members of the Anne Arundel County teachers union are planning a no-confidence vote on Superintendent Eric J. Smith even though Smith announced in August that he is leaving late next month for an unpaid position at Harvard University.

The Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County initially was to meet in August to call for the vote, but Smith resigned on the eve of the action.

Union president Sheila M. Finlayson said that teachers decided to go ahead with the vote as a symbolic gesture to remind Smith and the school board that many of them are unhappy.

"Teachers still feel under attack. This is their way of being heard," Finlayson said.

Smith could not be reached for comment yesterday. He has said previously that the planned vote by the teachers union was not a factor in his departure and instead pointed to disagreements with the school board as the reason for his resignation.

The school system is not commenting on the vote, a spokeswoman said.

The possibility of a no-confidence vote has been discussed by the union membership for about a year, Finlayson said. In the spring, a motion was made to hold the vote, but the union instead opted to conduct a mail-in evaluation of the superintendent, to which 1,100 teachers responded, Finlayson said.

That survey found widespread dissatisfaction with Smith, many respondents saying they didn't think he valued their input. Smith got much higher marks in a school system survey of employees.

The vote - by representatives of each school, based on results of balloting at each - will be held Nov. 2, Finlayson said, because concerns raised by teachers haven't been addressed.

"There have been no efforts to improve relations with teachers and correct some of the problems teachers are facing including workload," Finlayson said.

The school system and the union are negotiating a multiyear contract for teachers.


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