The Arlington Education Association, still smarting from cuts in next year's school budget that left teachers with only a 7 percent raise, is asking its 853 members for their reaction to the association's handling of this year's "budget crisis."

At a meeting earlier this week, almost 40 members of the AEA delegate assembly, the elected representatives from county schools, related the frustration and depression of teachers over County Board budget actions this year.

Outgoing AEA president Cathy Hartness asked the delegates to poll their teachers on whether they believe the AEA actions were "too strong, about right or not strong enough." A task force also is being formed to study the issue.

The 7 percent pay raise, approved by the school board last week, is 2 percent lower than that given county workers. Last year, by contrast, county workers received pay hikes that were 2 percent lower than teachers.

But the difference between contributions to health insurance plans, the teachers said, effectively wiped out the attempt to bring the two groups to parity. The County Board pays 95.2 percent of its employees' premiums while the school board pays only 69.5 percent -- lowering teachers' take-home pay, they said.