Teacher Contracts Bring Lower Settlements, More Instruction Time

More than a third of districts report settlements at 2 percent or lower for this current school year, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association.

Average teacher raises continue a downward trend, while school boards negotiate more instructional time, the New Jersey School Boards Association reported Tuesday.
The average teacher raise for 2012-2013 is 2.42 percent, according to NJSBA. More than a third (38 percent) of districts report settlements at 2 percent or lower for this current school year. In 2011-2012, the average settlement rate was 3.19 percent.
Teacher contracts in New Jersey typically last for three years. Recently settled 2012-2013 contracts (agreements reached since July 1 of last year) show average raises of 2.36 percent – lower than the settlement rate for all 2012-2013 contracts.
“Settlement rates continue their downward trend due to the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap, the slow economy, and local school board concerns about property tax burdens,” explained Marie S. Bilik, NJSBA executive director.
Districts in Negotiations

Of the 587 local boards of education in New Jersey, 160 remain in negotiations. (The 160 districts in negotiations include 107 where contracts expired June 30 of 2012, and 53 where contracts expired in 2011 or earlier.)
Last year at this time, 208 school districts were still in negotiations with their teachers union, while in 2010, 155 districts were still at the bargaining table as the school year began.
“Parents should not be alarmed at the number of unsettled contracts,” said Bilik.
“It’s not unusual for more than 150 school districts to begin classes with the school board and teachers union still at the bargaining table,” she said. “This should not impact the opening of school or school operations. That’s because teachers in New Jersey never work ‘without a contract.’ All of the salary, benefits and protections of the previous contract remain in place until a new agreement is reached.
“NJSBA continues to provide support to local school boards during the negotiations process,” Bilik continued. These services include analysis of the expiring agreement, data on collective bargaining agreements, advice on reaching goals through negotiations, and review of salary guides.
Instruction Time, Other Achievements

In addition to curbing salary increases, teacher contracts are reflecting a trend toward more instruction time.
More than a quarter (26 percent) of 2012-2013 contract contains an increase in work time, up from 14 percent in the previous year.  Some examples of additional work time include adding days to the school year, adding time to the school day, and restructuring the day to allow for more student/teacher contact.
Some school boards have frozen staff stipends for extra-curricular or co-curricular duties, and restructured salary guides to control costs. In addition, NJSBA has found a number of school boards have placed controls over tuition reimbursement by decreasing or capping payments or providing reimbursement only if the employee remains in the district for a given number of years.
“The goal of the board of education is to provide an appropriate level of staff compensation within the financial resources available to the community,” said Bilik.
The New Jersey School Boards Association is a federation of 587 local boards of education and includes 65 charter school associate members. NJSBA advocates the interests of school districts, trains local school board members, and provides resources for the advancement of public education.

Editor's Note: The above information was submitted to Patch by the New Jersey School Boards Association.

Meanwhile in West Orange September 06, 2012 at 08:01 PM
John September 08, 2012 at 10:48 PM
No thanks Wally....I'll share in the sacrifice when attorneys, engineers, accounting firms, Wall Street brokers, all doing business with State, show us their sacrifice.
South Westfielder September 09, 2012 at 01:57 PM
John, I can tell you that unlike teachers, engineers, accountants and those in the private sector are getting laid off. I think they'd prefer the wage freeze if they haven't already had wage freezes already. I cannot speak for attorneys, but if they are still employed, its because the work is there, they are bringing in revenue to their firms, or going out of business themselves.
Zalana September 13, 2012 at 03:48 PM
I think it is wrong to try to fix the financial woes of the states and the nation by asking teachers and other private and public sector workers to sacrifice their already meager salaries. Has anyone ever ask the corporations to do their part by paying their fair share of taxes, by taking responsibility for their misguided financial blunders?, and not saddle the workers of this country with their socialized debt, while keeping all the profits to themselves.
IluvUSA September 14, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Teachers are like parents to children, children spend more time with teachers then they do with their own families, to not consider teachers role models and important enough to pay fairly shows how backwards our country is becoming. I am not arguing against or for any other sectors or any other professions; I am just talking about the truth and what really goes on. BTW, check how much the budget for education is and what percent of that teachers receive, then explain to me where all the other money goes..?? for administration to make up new programs that will be scrapped for new programs that will be scrapped for new programs that will... you get it, people can be mad at the education budget, but to be mad at the teachers themselves who help mold your children is plain STUPID!


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