Letters: Princeton Teachers Say School Board’s Salary Offer Too Low
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
Submit your letter to the editor to editor∂planetprinceton.com.
Looking at the last contract, it appears raises from 2011-12 to 2012-13 for teachers with a BA and 1-14 years experience ranged from 1.28% to 5.16% and from 4.33% to 7.21% for 2012-13 to 2013-14.
But “[w]e have seen our take-home pay go down year after year.”
How can this be?
The health insurance premium contribution went up by 400%. Typically from 4% to 24%, in some cases as much 35%. This outweighed any cost of living increase and combine with frozen salary guides driving down net take home pay each year.
These percentages don’t tell me much.
For each of the three years of the previous contract, what were the costs of the health insurance plans? And what were the teacher contributions in dollars?
Roughly, the historical health-care contribution was 1/12 or 8.33% of the cost. Now the percentages vary and go upto 35% (for those at the top end of the pay scale).
The dollar cost varies depending on the plan, but these days, a family plan is in the $20,000-$24,000 range. So at 35%, that is $7,000-$8,200 per year in premiums; versus $1,666-$2,000 prior to the state healthcare law.
So let’s see tables of “total compensation*” for all the steps, for all the education levels, for the last three years, along with projections of the effect of the board’s offer on the future numbers. Percent change from year to year would be helpful and, if satisfactory teachers normally advance a step each year, the % should reflect that.
I realize that’s a lot of work and the tables would be complicated. And they might show some surprising distortions. But after that last credibility-straining OpEd, fair-minded residents might find such numbers more compelling than percentages of unknowns and apples-to-oranges comparisons.
* “Total compensation” = salary + cost of all benefits (medical, dental, vision, etc.) – employee contributions towards those benefits
wait…so it’s a novel concept somehow that teachers should have to pay for benefits that they use…pretty much like all of the taxpayers that pay their salaries do???
Most people pay more for health insurance year-over-year, have not received raises, and have had their 401k contributions reduced. Few people have the luxury of traditional defined benefit pensions. Our Princeton property tax bill has increased every year that we have lived here. Most middle class people are making less this year. Many people are out of work. Annual raises are not the norm.
Teacher with salaries above 100k per year with summers off, tenure, and defined benefit pensions that are more valuable and expensive to taxpayers since people are living longer. How can it be – “Teachers Distressed that Part of Tax Increase Was Not Earmarked for Raises” with such a package? Distressed? Really? Are they moving to other schools, or are they just distressed? They are getting a raise, just not as large as they would like.
Taxpayers pay the salaries of teachers. More take home pay and benefits for teacher means higher expenses for taxpayers. Should teachers be immune to the realities of their neighbors that support the schools? To quote another commenter, “We have terrific teachers in Princeton, but I do not always have the impression that they understand the realities of people outside of the system.”
Selfish and grasping behavior by the teachers union. In a time where everyone is making hard and austere choices, these pampered, summer-off pedagogues want all of us to take less so they can take more.
If the goal is to take the one of the most qualified, committed, highest performing groups of teaching professionals in the state and cut their compensation further and further until you start see people physically have to leave, -you have the right negotiator. Distressed’s property taxes will still go up. You will just get worse district performance for your tax dollars.
If current teacher pay is so awful and the benefits so poor,
then you would expect teachers to be already leaving. Is the pay better in West
Windsor, Plainsboro, or Lawrenceville? Many people think teacher’s total
compensation is already pretty sweet.
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