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Princeton School Board Approves New Pact with Teachers’ Union

princeton public schoolsThe school board for the Princeton Public Schools unanimously voted tonight to approve a new four-year contract with teachers.

The teachers’ union ratified the agreement last week. The contract is retroactive to July 1 of last year. The contract expires on June 30 of 2018.

Teachers will receive the following salary increases as part of the new contract:

Year 1 – A salary increases of 2.66 percent, retroactive to July 1 of 2014.

Year 2 – A 2.67 percent increase.

Year 3 – A 2.50 percent increase.

Year 4 – A 2.63 percent increase.

Longevity pay will be eliminated in year four of the new contract and will be incorporated into a new step system going forward, school officials said.

“The long-term cost savings are important to the board,” School Board President Andrea Spalla said.  “They will bring sustainability beyond the agreement.”

The agreement also includes increases in the stipends paid to teachers for extra services like coaching or being the advisers of student clubs. There is no increase for the 2014-15 school year. The increase for year two is 2.5 percent. For years three and four, the increase is 2.25 percent a year.

Teachers who subscribe to the district’s health care benefits program will receive annual health care stipends for years two, three and four of the contract. Under the new agreement, teachers will continue to make health care contributions at the tier 4 level under Chapter 78 of New Jersey state law, an item the teachers’ union had vehemently opposed. Teachers will also hold two evening parent-teacher conferences a year and will have one additional staff development day a year.

“We all know was difficult process this was. It caused a lot of stress and anxiety. Our sincere and fervent hope is that we can and will all collectively move forward,” Spalla said.

Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane said both sides made a strong commitment over the last few weeks to come up with a fair salary guide.

“The agreement allows teachers and the entire community to begin the summer with a sense of hope,” Cochrane said.

By reaching an agreement, the union and board avoiding paying a state fact finder up to $3,000 a day to try to help negotiate an agreement.

Board Member Patrick Sullivan thanked everyone for their hard work, apologized for tensions between the board and teachers, and said he hopes the board and teachers can build a trusting relationship moving forward.

“I wish it wasn’t a hard and as long a process,” he said. “Relations between the board and the teachers could be better. But now we have four years to rebuild the relationship. I hope we can do that.”

Resident Amy Goldstein thanked the union and school board negotiating teams for their hard work. She asked that moving forward, negotiating teams in the future avoid involving kids in the process.

Resident Adrienne Rubin said she was surprised the school board meeting was so poorly attended.

“I’m really surprised there is no sea of blue tonight,” Rubin said, adding that she hopes more community members attend board meetings.

“It has been a difficult process but the PREA has come together and the community has come together in a lot of different ways,” teacher Malachi Wood said, adding that everyone shares common goals, and that he hopes the board and superintendent will conduct a “listening tour” in the district this coming school year.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • @tkq

    @disqus_kShHheypwo:disqus: Thanks for disclosing. No need to give any other details. I love living in Princeotn and hope to continue to be able to do so. By “deal,” I meant the settlement between PREA and the district. I apologize if I mischaracterized any of your comments. I’m not a Bill Maher sheep (or a sheep for anyone, for that matter); I just like the term “zombie lie” and wanted to give some attribution. It’s time for our community to move on — to rally around our superintendent and go back to the important business of teaching and learning. Have a great summer.

  • BL

    There was no deal between me and you. I simply told you, that I would say “I told you so”. And you need to learn to say something without writing an entire novel. Yes I am a Princeton resident. No you are not getting my name or address. That’s none of your business.

    And you need to cool it with the personal attacks. NJEA talking points? That’s funny. I hate the NJEA and nearly withdrew from the union this year. Btw, half the garbage you are spouting I didn’t even say. You love putting words in people’s mouths and making assumptions.

    Enjoy watching Bill Maher. He has the biggest sheep audience I’ve ever seen.

  • @tkq

    @disqus_kShHheypwo:disqus: I don’t recall reading anywhere here that this deal will not require a tax increase. It’s a question worth asking, but it is incalculable right now due to a variety of budgetary unknowns. What we do know is the board budgeted for salary increases along these lines in both the FY ’13-’14 and FY ’14-’15 budgets. Again, the notion that there’s a pot of money hidden in the basement at Valley Road is another longtime false narrative perpetuated by PREA. Bill Maher refers to this kind of oft-repeated falsehood as a “zombie lie”; in this case, the term is accurate since it has never been supported by any evidence.

    I suspect that salaries above 2 percent will necessitate a tax increase unless programs are cut, but we’ll see how that plays out. With enrollment rising and more housing coming online in the next few years, there will still be hard decisions to be made. These decisions will be less difficult because of the board’s HUGE WIN on Chapter 78. Make no mistake, all of the other monetary concessions made by the board will have a far less significant impact on the long-term budget forecast than the impact that would have been created by a concession on Chapter 78. It took 15 months of holding the line in the face of sometimes vitriolic criticism and personal attacks, but the board’s insistence on Tier 4 contributions remaining intact going forward saved the district from cutting programs and from the need to exercise annual healthcare waivers that would have cost taxpayers even more.

    I’d point out that this is far from over for the board, which now is staring down the barrel of a proposal by the Christie administration that municipalities and local boards of education fund public employee pensions. We can only be grateful to the board for its victory on C78, which makes the future a lot less uncertain. In the short-term future, I’m pleased that the district will be able to put the focus foursquare on student learning, instead of on teacher compensation. We are very fortunate to have an exceptional superintendent with boundless energy and a real vision for how the district can move forward to serve all students. He is backed by a board that takes its fiduciary responsibilities seriously and reflects community values in learning. If all staff embrace this vision, better days are ahead for our district, even with the substantial challenges it will face.

    As for you, BL, now that this is all over, may I ask if you are one of the Princeton taxpayers who will be contributing toward this contract? We know you are “a teacher in another district,” but you’ve yet to reveal which district — or your hometown, for that matter. You seem to have the NJEA talking points and zombie lies down cold.

    — Tim Quinn
    Former Princeton Board of Education member
    Spouse of member of an NJEA local
    Non-represented public employee

  • D14

    Do I understand correctly that the taxpayers of Princeton will be further subsidizing health insurance premiums in addition to what we already provide in employer contributions? Can someone please tell us how much the “health care stipends” are?

  • BL

    Hey tkq

    “I’m pretty sure there is money tucked away somewhere that doesn’t
    require a tax increase. There always is. I’ll watch it play out and
    say I told you so.”

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Christmas Bird Count, Kingston segment

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Santa Comes to Kale’s Garden Center

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