The 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.