Teachers Distressed that Part of Tax Increase Was Not Earmarked for Raises
We, the undersigned, are all Princeton residents, taxpayers and voters. We are also Princeton Public School educators and Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) union members. Like any Princeton parent, we are proud to have our children educated here and we are 100 percent committed to public education in Princeton. We recognize and appreciate all the dedication that goes into running an excellent school system from parents to board members to administrators to educators to support staff. All stakeholders must work together in a spirit of mutual trust and respect to achieve all that we do.
Like other Princeton residents, we count on the Board of Education to provide the best possible environment for our professional staff to focus its energy on our children. We also count on the Board of Education to fulfill its fiduciary duty to us as taxpayers. In both respects we are distressed that none of the recent tax increase was allocated for teachers’ salaries.
As a result, PREA members have started this school year without a new contract, and we are concerned by the distrust and apprehension fostered by the current contract negotiation. We believe that the Board’s proposed contract is not an accurate reflection of our residents’, taxpayers’ and parents’ values. Our Board has made a salary offer that is below the current average for Mercer County settlements. Contrary to the impression conveyed by the Board, the 2 percent cap is a limit on tax increases for the school budget, not on salaries. The Board is responsible for deciding how to allocate the budget. Contrary to the Board’s position that insurance premium contributions cannot be negotiated in years two and three of the contract, eleven other New Jersey districts have already done so.
The Board’s current contract proposals already risk eroding the morale of our highly qualified staff. We have seen our take-home pay go down year after year. A secure career path should be offered to professional educators to attract and keep the best talent possible for our children.
As we pursue actions to make our case before the board, we will, of course, maintain our focus on the education of our students – your children and ours. With the support of the public, we can bring the contract negotiations to a swifter and more positive conclusion. We invite you to let the board and superintendent know that you support the PREA before the next bargaining session on Thursday, September 11. Contact information for the Board members can be found at the Board’s web site: https://www.princetonk12.org/Board/Members
Please stay informed by liking us on facebook @ A Sea of Blue-Princeton Educators and following us on Twitter at @ASeafofBluePREA. We encourage you to attend the board meetings (the next one is on Tuesday, September 23 at 8pm), write letters to the editor and contact the board.
Constance Killian Escher
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