Negotiators for the Calvert County teachers and support staff unions lashed out at the Board of Education in a letter Friday, asserting that the board had "fraudulently misrepresented" contract talks.
The letter to state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick came in response to Grasmick's declaration that negotiations with the support staff union were at an impasse, a situation that calls for outside arbitrators to help relieve the gridlock.
The support staff union "does not recognize your declaration of impasse because significant material facts have not been disclosed to you" by the school board, the letter said.
At issue was a previous letter to Grasmick from Calvert Superintendent J. Kenneth Horsmon, in which he said that there had been a "significant rebate" from the system's insurance carrier and "that additional money could be used to fund our contracts."
During a negotiating meeting Wednesday, union officials believed the school board would offer a new salary proposal based on the additional funds that Horsmon alluded to in the letter, said Joseph Sella, the unions' chief negotiator. But after a disagreement over another aspect of the contract, the board "just got up and walked out," Sella said.
"No salary proposal was ever presented," wrote Sandy Brady, president of the Calvert Association of Educational Support Staff. "Why would the superintendent misrepresent the truth that they intended to present new salary proposals?"
Union officials said that because of the perceived misrepresentation, the impasse should not have been declared. "They have sold you a bogus bill of goods," Brady wrote to Grasmick.
Horsmon expressed frustration over the latest letter, one of several statements critical of the school system during the contentious contract talks. The union representing teachers also has been at an impasse since July, a stalemate that has not occurred in Calvert since the late 1970s.
"I've got to stop dignifying all this stuff. I have no response," Horsmon said Friday.
He added that the school board had planned to offer a new salary proposal during Wednesday's meeting but that the board's negotiators never got to it because of disagreements over an issue about employee representation during disputes.
The school board has proposed a three-year salary package for teachers that would grant a 1 percent increase for the first year; then for each of the next two years they would receive a 1 percent increase and an additional raise based on the Consumer Price Index, which could range from 3 percent to 4 percent.