Board of Ed ups salary offer

February 13, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Board of Education proposed a 7 percent salary increase for the county's teachers during contract negotiations Monday night.

The offer also included a step increase, which would mean an 8.5 percent salary increase for most teachers, said Tim Thornburg, employee and labor relations coordinator for the board and its chief negotiator.

"There is no more money for salary increases," he said. "That is all we can afford to provide."

Negotiations for the 2007-08 school year contract have been ongoing since December 2006.

In a proposal to the board Monday, T. Scott Miller, Maryland State Teachers Association UniServ Director and chief negotiator, said the association wanted an 8 percent salary increase, plus a step increase. The association previously proposed a 12 percent increase.

Thornburg said that by making the counteroffer on salary, the association rejected the board's offer of a 7 percent salary increase, plus a step increase.


"I'm guessing that their members will be quite shocked when they learn that the association turned down that amount of a raise," Thornburg said.

The board's negotiating team said Monday that instead of offering a percentage increase in the hourly rate for extra-duty pay, it would like to spend that money on increased salaries. The board proposed keeping the hourly rate the same in the upcoming contract.

The association reduced its request for extra-duty pay from $60 per hour to a $35-per-hour flat rate. That is an increase from the $20 to $35 an hour teachers receive now for work outside the contractual day.

Thornburg said the best way to make sure the most people benefited from the money was to spend it on salary instead of extra-duty pay.

Thornburg presented data stating that Washington County pays more per hour of work outside the contractual day than 10 of 12 neighboring counties.

A member of the association's bargaining team said teachers are expected to work a number of hours outside of the work day, but are not compensated fairly for it. She cited personal examples of preparing students' work for art shows on nights and weekends.

Miller also continued to press for increased health-care benefits to include vision and retiree health benefits. He also mentioned the association's concerns about the tuition reimbursement plan presented by the board.

"We understand the reluctance that the Board of Education has communicated in discussing or negotiating (health insurance), therefore we have asked for a serious consideration of no-cost alternatives," Miller said.

The association has requested a committee to monitor health industry trends.

"Teachers have concerns about the implementation of a vision-care package because Washington County's lack of a vision package places the county among a very small number of counties in the state without such a benefit," Miller said.

Thornburg has said the board has no interest in negotiating a vision-care package.

Know more ... in 30 seconds

The issue: The Washington County Board of Education and the Washington County Teachers Association have been in contract negotiations for the 2007-08 school year since December 2006.

What's new: On Monday, the board raised its proposal on salary increases to 7 percent, plus a step increase. The association requested an 8 percent increase, plus a step increase.

What's next: The sides will continue public negotiations during a bargaining session Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at E. Russell Hicks Middle School in Hagerstown.

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