February 3, 2015

Negotiations Update: February 3, 2015



“We worked hard to resolve”

“We met on 8 separate occasions”

  • We are not aware of any time the Superintendent and Business Administrator attended negotiations or were present to answer questions that could expedite the process.
  • Most sessions-time were used by BOE for their private caucusing- the SEA did their homework- the BOE was less prepared.
  • We met 9 times -most meetings less than an hour

The SEA refused to negotiate in summer

“The board thought that this offer was fair and reasonable.”

  • Board said at June 9th negotiation meeting: “We won’t go above 2%.” Over 3 years-2%, 2%, 2% vs. state avg. of 2.5%.
  • The last negotiation, June 18th, SEA tried to cont. negotiation on other issues –the board said there’s no point if we would not accept their numbers -their offer remained the same (6% total over 3 years) -impasse was declared at this meeting

“The board never proposed the longevity increment be abolished for existing staff members, only new hires.”

  • Over the last decade, the BOE has proposed numerous changes that limit longevity pay: freezing the amount, changing “longevity” to “Years of Service Award”, disqualifying time not worked in Somerville. Now all new employees would be ineligible under new contract. This sets up unequal and divided treatment of employees.

The SEA rejected settlement offer (post mediation) 

“The board hopes to responsibly and sensibly resolve the collective bargaining agreement issues and will continue to work toward this goal.”

  • Counter proposals are not rejections
  • BOE sent 5-pt. proposal on 1/13
  • SEA countered with 6-pt. proposal on 1/15 (accepted some proposals and offered counter proposals for others)
  • Our proposal asks the BOE to cont. negotiation -so far they are unwilling.

Superintendent stated no cuts to arts and music programs

  • Proposed SMS schedule has drastic cuts to both

SEA STATEMENT: While our members’ salaries have been frozen for three years, our pay scale has dropped each year, nearing the bottom of the county. The average gross salary fell $2,391.82 dollars in the last year alone when steps were “frozen.”  The real issue is getting our dynamic, younger staff to stay: the board’s tactics demonstrate indifference, not “fair and reasonable.”

January 18, 2015

Update 2015

1) All SEA members, please join us at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night starting at 7:00pm.

2) Our January SEA rep council meeting will be taking place at the Somerset County Education Association office.  We will be conducting our usual rep council meeting.  We’ll also be providing any updates and clarifications on negotiations.

3) The SCEA office is located at 1140 rt 22 east.  From SHS to the SCEA office is approximately a one-mile trip down rt 22 east.

December 17, 2014

S-2265/A-3487 Quarterly Pension Bill

Call your Senators today and tell them:

  • Last June, the Senate voted 36-3 to pass S-2265, which would require the state to make quarterly pension payments.
  • We need that kind of bipartisan support again this Thursday.
  • Please support this fiscally responsible bill and vote YES.  It will save the State and taxpayers money while securing the retirement system.
  • And, please urge your colleagues to do the same.
  • Thank you!



By Map: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/njmap210.html

By Number: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/districtnumbers.asp#16


December 9, 2014

Readington Twp. teachers protest contract by leaving as a group; photos


In an effort to prod the district into settling on a new contract, teachers at all four district schools left at their contracted time this afternoon, Dec. 4.

At dismissal time, a small crowd of parents sporting “I support Readington teachers” buttons showed their support for teachers leaving at Three Bridges School and Holland Brook School. Teachers left as a group at their contracted time of 3:05 p.m. at Three Bridges School, while those at Holland Brook School left at their contracted time of around 3:45 p.m.

See More Photos

December 9, 2014

Second mediation for Readington teachers’ contract scheduled


“Mediation sessions for a new contract between the Readington teachers’ union and Board of Education continue, though a settlement with the administrators’ union has been reached.

Parents and students showed up in support of the teachers at all four district schools before classes started this morning, Dec. 2. They plan to do the same thing on Thursday Dec. 4, at all three schools beginning at 2:15 p.m., and at the board meeting on Dec. 9.

Though not on strike, teachers are entering and leaving each school at the exact time the expired contract they’re working under specifies. In an email to the Hunterdon County Democrat, Chip Shepherd of Readington, a science teacher at Readington Middle School, expressed outrage at the board’s request for staff to “work more and longer days without offering an increase in salary” and limit teachers’ use of personal and bereavement days.

“They also want to reduce the amount of time in school that teachers have to prepare for class and thereby increase the amount of time we teach,” he said. “That may cause a reduction in the number of teachers and perhaps an increase in class size.”

Read More

December 6, 2014

Who is on the State Board of Education? And do they practice what they preach?

Perhaps you’ve wondered who sits on our State BOE.  Since they have been such strong proponents of the Common Core and public ed reform, they must of course send their children to schools with the same rigorous standards and technology initiatives.

Here are some details on our State BOE as well as an interesting letter to the editor pointing out some possible contradictions between what NJ’s BOE president supports in our public schools and how that appears to differ from what his children’s school (The Willow School) does.

The State Board has 11 members who are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the New Jersey State Senate. They serve six-year terms and are not paid. No two members may be appointed from the same county.

By law, at least three members of the State Board must be women. Meeting that minimum requirement, eight board members are men and three are women.

The current board is composed of six members appointed by Gov. Chris Christie, other members having been appointed by previous NJ Governors.

Brief backgrounds of Christie’s appointees are below and additional details of each board member can be found following the link at the bottom.

  • Jack A. Fornaro (Oxford Township, Warren County), previously served on the Board of Cosmetology and Hair Styling under the Department of Consumer Affairs.
  • J. Peter Simon (Green Village, Morris County) is the son of William Simon, former Treasury Secretary under Pres. Nixon & Ford.  He is currently a banker and partner in William Simon & Sons.
  • Claire Chamberlin Eckert (Bernardsville, Somerset County) is chief operating officer of Janet Simon, Inc, a design firm founded by J. Peter Simon’s wife, Janet.  Before that Eckert spent 10 years at Goldman Sachs where she focused on structuring and financing leveraged buyouts.  She is a member of the NJ State Republican Committee.
  • Andrew Mulvihill (Andover, Sussex County) is a Vernon Valley developer and the president of Crystal Springs Builders, which built the Grand Cascades Lodge near the Crystal Springs Country Club in Hamburg. His firm recently bought Mountain Creek ski resort and has built other townhomes and developments in the area.
  • Josephy Fisicaro (Evesham Township, Burlington County) is the Vice President, State Board of Education, 2013 – present.  He is a former Philadelphia teacher and LRHS board of education, and school boards association member.
  • Mark W. Biedron (Pottersville, Hunterdon County) is the current president of the State Board of Ed.  Biedron has a background in business administration.  Additionally he is a Co-Founder of The Willow School, Gladstone, N.J., and the founder of Solid Wood Construction LLC.

A recent letter to the editor published on NorthJersey.com pointed out the potential contradiction between what State BOE President Mark Biedron supports in his appointed position versus what he supports for his own children.

“We recently learned that Mark Biedron, president of the New Jersey State Board of Education and a staunch supporter of the Common Core, sends his children to The Willow School, a private school he founded. A thorough examination of the school’s website reveals no evidence of the implementation of the Common Core and its narrow focus on “college and career readiness.”

Instead, The Willow School seeks to develop each child’s intellectual, artistic and physical potential through a comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum. The Willow School helps children discover who they are, the joy of learning, and the wonder of the environment around them. Foreign languages are taught in the early grades. There is no mention of technology in the description of their curriculum.”

Letter to Editor: Wealthy elite are setting education standards

NJ State Board of Education