The Prince George's County teachers union accused the Board of Education yesterday of stalling in the contract negotiations that began seven weeks ago. Union leaders also charged that the board's wage offers, if adopted, would not keep up with salary increases elsewhere and would put teachers' salaries even farther behind other jurisdictions in the Washington area.
"Their salary scale wouldn't keep pace, but would also have us fall further behind," said Paul Pinsky, president of the Prince George's County Educators Association.
A spokesman for the board denied that school officials had been stalling and said that the board's proposals were based on a study recommending wage increases that would make county salaries competitive with other systems in the area.
Starting salary for county teachers, $15,738 this school year, is the lowest in the Washington area.
Pinsky said the union had asked teachers to wear red clothing to school today to protest the slow negotiations and the board's salary offer. The union, which originally proposed a starting salary of $20,000 next year, revised its proposal yesterday, recommending the $20,000 figure as a starting salary in two years, Pinsky said. That translates into a 13 percent increase next year and the same rate increase the following year.
"Their offer is still far beyond what the county could afford," school spokesman Brian J. Porter said of the union's latest proposal.
The school board also revised its proposal yesterday, according to Porter, who said the new offer pushes up salary increases that, under the first proposal, had been spread out over the school year in seven steps.
Porter said the board's offer would raise the salary of the average teacher with a master's degree and 15 years of experience from $31,476 to $37,288 over two years. Because the raises would be given in phases, they would average 17 percent over the two-year period.
School and union officials said they did not have figures to compare their offers at each step of the pay scale.
"There's an understanding that teachers in Prince George's County need significant improvements in salary," Porter said. "There's also a realization that the money isn't here yet to provide that on the first day of school next year . . . . "