The Calvert County Board of Education and the Calvert Education Association failed to agree on teachers salaries for the upcoming school year, and no further talks are scheduled before the current contract expires Wednesday, union and school officials said Friday.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed," said Calvert Superintendent J. Kenneth Horsmon. "I was hoping that we could come back together and work something out."
The most contentious aspect of the contract negotiations concerned pay, union officials said in a letter sent to members last week. The school board offered teachers a 1 percent cost-of-living increase, according to the letter, a raise that the union rejected.
"At the same time, the Board has granted the administrators' bargaining unit a three per cent cost of living increase in addition to their step increases," said the letter, which was signed by members of the Calvert Education Association negotiating team.
Since no agreement has been reached, both sides are awaiting a potential declaration of a negotiating "impasse" -- a gridlock that has not occurred in Calvert in more than two decades, officials said. Either side may petition the state superintendent of schools to declare an impasse, which, if granted, means the parties will select a panel of arbitrators to assist in the negotiations.
Helen Thompson, president of the Calvert Education Association, said the Board of Education recommended the impasse status after no agreement was reached Tuesday, when the two sides met for the last time.
"We wanted to continue [negotiations]; it was the school system that said they were going to ask for a certification of impasse from the state superintendent," she said.
But Horsmon said the school board also wanted to continue the contract talks.
"We are not at impasse. It may be inevitable, but we are not there yet," he said.
Calvert County teachers are concluding a three-year contract that included a 4 percent cost-of-living raise for the year that ends this week. The average salary for Calvert County teachers last year was $54,623, ranking them second in the state behind those in Montgomery County, according to the state Department of Education.
"Our teachers are paid well, relatively speaking," Horsmon said.
He added that the school system is facing a tighter financial situation than in previous years, with Huntingtown High School scheduled to open in August.
"We have limited resources," he said. "The impact of opening a high school on an operating budget is pretty significant."
In addition to a pact for the teachers, no agreement has been reached on a contract for Calvert public schools support staff members, though more talks are scheduled for early this week, officials said.
This month, the Charles County Board of Education signed contracts with employee unions to provide a 3 percent cost-of-living raise for all workers for the coming school year.
In St. Mary's, the teachers union ratified a contract that provides 10 percent cost-of-living raises over the next two years in incremental steps. During the first six months of the coming contract year, beginning Thursday, the teachers receive a 2 percent raise, followed by an additional 3 percent Jan. 1. The next year the pattern would be the same, contingent on full funding of the board's budget request by county and state governments.