34 teachers losing jobs

Negotiations continue

Friday, April 29, 2011

Though the support staff union was able to sign off on one article, the teachers' union remained at odds with the Calvert County Board of Education during this week's negotiations for fiscal 2012 contracts. As of Thursday morning, 34 teachers have received notification that they will not have jobs next school year, according to Calvert County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Robin Welsh.

At initial negotiating sessions earlier in the month, the board proposed a 2 percent pay cut for all school system employees but Joseph Sella, the chief negotiator for the support staff and teachers' union, has said that a two-day furlough, possibly on the week of Thanksgiving, would be less of a hardship for staff as their base salary would remain the same, which would be better in the long-term for retirement pensions.

Welsh, who is also the school board's head negotiator, has said without the 2-percent pay cut the school system could be looking at eliminating more positions through layoffs for the 2011-2012 school year.

This talk of layoffs stemmed from Calvert County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith projecting a need to cut about $6.6 million in the $187 million fiscal 2012 budget, due to anticipated fixed charges and an anticipated $3.8 million in cuts in state dollars and the end of funding from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

At Tuesday's negotiations, The Calvert Association of Educational Support Staff, or CAESS, signed off with the board's negotiating team on Article 11 on Inclement Weather with new language stating that when buildings are closed early due to inclement weather, building service workers shall have the opportunity to report to work early at the time designated by the principal or his or her designee prior to his or her scheduled start time to begin scheduled operations.

Sella also offered the board a contract resolution proposal for CAESS including up to three "family well-being days" included in sick leave; a step increase on the 10th pay period; two furlough days in which buildings would be completely shut down and no employee in the school system would receive payment; and employees with 20 or more years of service receiving a one-time payment of 3 percent of their base salary on July 1, 2012.

On Tuesday, Sella remained adamant that CAESS employees receive some type of step or salary increase as he said some of its employees "are almost at the poverty level."

The board's team will continue negotiations with CAESS on Monday, May 16 at 2 p.m.

On Wednesday's negotiations between the board's negotiating team and the Calvert Education Association, or CEA, which represents the county's teachers, Welsh changed the proposed pay cut from 2 percent to 1.5 percent.

"Oh wow, that's a big one," Sella sarcastically said to Welsh, who said even the half percent change would mean teacher layoffs.

"We're not going to consider that a burden; that's your burden," Sella told Welsh, who responded "It's not a burden, it's a fact."

Like he has for the support staff union, Sella has offered a potential contract resolution for the teachers' union including the family well-being days, the same furlough days and 10th pay period step increase, which he changed to the 11th pay period at Wednesday's negotiations.

"We don't have the money to put in a step; it's as simple as that," Welsh said.

The board's negotiating team will continue negotiations with the CEA on Monday, May 9 at 2 p.m.