The Calvert County Board of Education approved a three-year contract with the county teachers union last week, tentatively ending a four-month dispute.
The contract, which awaits approval by a majority of Calvert Education Association members, includes a 3 percent pay increase for the second half of the current school year. Next year, teachers would receive a 3.6 percent raise, followed by a 3.7 percent increase the year after that.
Under the agreement, elementary school teachers would be guaranteed 45 minutes of uninterrupted daily planning time.
It was unclear how the proposed contract addressed one of the most contentious issues during negotiations: whether a teacher is entitled to legal or union representation when called into a disciplinary meeting with a supervisor.
J. Kenneth Horsmon, the county's school superintendent, said the contract would give teachers the right to representation only after an investigation is completed.
But Shannon Fitch, the president of the teachers association, said the contract provided for representation during that period.
"In a case of potential misconduct, administrators or supervisors need to make the party aware that they have the right to representation . . . within 48 hours," he said. "Before [this contract], they have never had to verbalize the fact that we had that right."
Both sides declined to make public a copy of the proposed contract but said they were pleased with the tentative agreement.
"We came very close to getting everything we wanted," Fitch said. "We're very satisfied and happy that the board finally came to closure with us."
Horsmon said, "I think it's a fair settlement, and I'm anxious to get it ratified and move on."
The teachers association will begin the ratification process this week by distributing copies of the contract. Meetings with teachers at each school are planned.
The board's approval came as Calvert residents were voting on Board of Education candidates last week. Incumbent Mary Garvey and newcomer Frank T. Parish won seats Tuesday.
Parish, who said he did not campaign or spend any money on the election, was the underdog in his District 1 race against Jeffrey D. Borgholthaus, who spent about $3,000, according to campaign finance records.
Many voters said they were concerned about several of Borgholthaus's statements supporting organized prayer in schools and opposing the mention of contraception during sex education classes.
"I think those kinds of things are considered too conservative by the kind of people that vote in school board elections," said Tom Kelley, chairman of the Republican Party in Calvert.
Some political observers said Garvey's opponent in the District 3 race, James L. Parent, was hurt by his statements calling for the school board to have taxing authority.
But Election Day wasn't a total wash for Parent: Chesapeake Beach residents elected him to the Town Council.
Robert L. Gray was reelected to the school board without opposition.