The negotiating teams for both parties met on April 28, 2016, and exchanged last and best offers. The requisite documents are being prepared for submission to the Public School Labor Relations Board (PSLRB). Barring any unforeseen delay, the documents will be hand-delivered before the close of business today.
Language pertinent to negotiations in the Article 22E of the collective bargaining agreement TAAAC shares with the Board states:
The content of negotiations discussions shall be regarded as confidential. There shall be no public announcement or press releases on the content of negotiations discussions prior to the (1) successful conclusion of negotiations or (2) impasse being declared by the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board, unless by mutual agreement.
ACCORDINGLY, THE LAST AND BEST OFFERS CANNOT BE SHARED IN THEIR ENTIRETY UNTIL THE PSLRB DETERMINES THE EXISTENCE OF AN IMPASSE. IN OUTLINE FORMAT THE ISSUES INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
- second step at mid-year
- across the board increase (COLA)
- planning time
- work year
- department heads in the rating/observation process
- bargaining unit composition
- experience credit
THE SCHUH BUDGET
On the morning of May 2, County Executive Schuh presented his fiscal year 2017 budget recommendation. On its face, it appeared to have some positive elements. BOE highlights include; Funding to support a step increase, an enhancement of the EEE program, and a one-time insertion of $10 million into our health care fund, enabled by a maintenance of effort waiver that will keep the one-time expenditure out of the MOE calculation for fiscal year 2018.
While the funding of a step is good news, it must be noted that it fell well short of full funding, and does not provide sufficient resources to settle our contract dispute. Attendance to the Budget Hearings on May 9 at North County High School, and May 12 at Annapolis High School is still needed. Please arrive at 6:00, wear blue, and support those TAAAC officers that will be testifying on behalf of all of us.
SOME TOWN HALL DEBUNKING
Mr. Schuh made an overall pretty positive presentation last Wednesday evening at Severna Park Middle School. His answers to some of the questions, however, were rife with political spin. Please look over the below outline and see where some points were spun for effect or simply wrong:
• Mr. Schuh boasted that he funded a 2% increase for school employees for FY2016. He did not. The Board requested $14.6M that would cover either a 2% COLA or a Step Increase, to be determined in individual bargaining unit negotiations. Mr. Schuh cut the request by 60%, leaving a 1% placeholder. He characterized it as 2% because it could be made effective at mid-year, thereby putting only half of it in employee pockets. Further, he cut 64 positions to do that, then washed his hands of class size problems later in the Town Hall.
• Mr. Schuh is still hanging onto the claim that teachers’ average salary in the AACPS is $65,000. Not true. We have calculated that average using real salaries paid to real AACPS teachers this fiscal year as of this past December. The average is$62,690. More telling is that the mode is a mere $50,113.
• Mr. Schuh routinely characterizes Anne Arundel county as being among the highest taxed jurisdictions in Maryland. Anne Arundel’s local 2.50% income tax is the third lowest in Maryland. It’s property tax rate is the seventh lowest in the State and below the state average. He acknowledges that the ranking is based on total tax burden, but does not share Anne Arundel’s real position when contrasted with other Maryland counties and Baltimore City. Our tax burdens are primarily generated by household income and property value. Anne Arundel has among the highest household incomes and property values in the state. Yet even according to Schuh’s total tax burden approach, Anne Arundel ranks only ninth, seven places behind Howard and Montgomery who share high household incomes and property values. Making a fair judgement, based upon taxes computed as percentages of income and property values tell a different story.
• Finally, Mr. Schuh harshly criticized the General Assembly for replacing some of the political appointees’ seats on the School Board Nominating Commission with, in his words, “special interest groups like the NAACP and Casa de Maryland, an illegal immigration advocacy group.” He further asked rhetorically; “Whose public interest do they serve?” The criticism was unfounded and the actual justification was left unsaid following the racial reference.
First, the two referenced organizations do serve the interest of a diverse public citizenry, which Anne Arundel County has. Second, Schuh left the other added seats out of is remarks. They include; a second seat for the County Council of PTA’s, a seat for the Special Education Citizen Advisory Committee, and a rotating seat for the local Chambers of Commerce. A simple contrast of the political appointees who have been selected to date will show clear reason why a change is the structure was necessary and appropriate. The political appointees so far include: Amalie Brandenburg, a Steve Schuh employee; Kemp Hammond, another Steve Schuh employee; and son of County Budget Officer John Hammond; Susannah Kipke, wife of Nic Kipke, Minority Leader of Maryland’s House and close friend of Governor Hogan; and Kam Gast, a home-schooler and wife of former vice chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, Chuck Gast. It will be left to the reader to judge which group should be nominating candidates to sit on a public school Board.