Letter to the Editor: Redbank Valley School District Issues Release on Ongoing Contract Negotiations
In an effort to keep the community apprised of the ongoing contract negotiations between the district and both the teachers’ association and the support staff’s association, the district would like to provide the following update to its 11/20/20 press release.
On December 9th, the negotiating teams for the district and the unions met via a Zoom meeting. Formal offers were exchanged that day.
The district continues to offer a 4-year contract, retroactive to July 1, 2019 when the last contract ended.
The district continues to offer a pay freeze in the first year of the contract since no health insurance benefit changes can take place retroactively.
The district is now offering a one-time bonus of $500 to every teacher and support staff employee in the second year of the contract, in conjunction with health insurance benefit changes beginning in January 2021. These benefit changes include the start of copay requirements after an employee’s deductible is met. The health insurance changes for 2021 also include the district paying 50% of the teachers’ deductibles instead of 55% and 65% of the support staff’s deductibles instead of 70%. Employees from both associations would still have no premium payments for their insurance.
The district is now offering a 2% raise for teachers in the third and fourth years of the contract. The district continues to offer support staff a $0.40 per hour raise in third year and a $0.42 per hour raise in the fourth year. The health insurance changes for 2022 include the district paying 45% of the teachers’ deductibles and 60% of the support staff’s deductibles.
As part of a contract settlement, the district is willing to allow support staff to accumulate up to five personal days and to have a retirement bonus for unused sick days. The district asks that its maintenance supervisor be permitted to do a limited amount of maintenance work.
As part of a contract settlement, the district is willing to grant teachers the following: longer prep periods as long as they can be taken at the beginning or end of the day, more freedom to use personal days, an additional retirement bonus for unused sick days, and payment for unused sick days annually.
Since the district is giving more than receiving requested language changes, the district is unwilling to sign tentative agreements on contract language concessions and instead seeks a comprehensive contract agreement.
The anticipated increased district expenses from the contracts that the district has proposed total approximately a half million dollars over the four years of the contract. This is also the amount of additional tax revenue that the district projects can be garnered over that timeframe if the school board raises local taxes to the maximum limit each year and gets additional state revenue annually based on the recent average. Therefore, this contract proposal represents the maximum that the district can spend and maintain a balance budget.
The teachers’ association is proposing annual pay raises of 2.5% for each year of a five-year contract and less copayment requirements than what the district is requesting. The support staff’s association is proposing a $0.37 per hour raise for each year of a five-year contract and less copayment requirements than what the district is requesting.
The anticipated increased district expenses from the contracts that the associations have proposed total approximately one million dollars over the first four years of the contract. Since the district only anticipates an additional half million in revenue in that timeframe, the associations’ proposed contracts would result in an unbalanced budget, which could put educational programs and positions at risk.
The district’s negotiations committee voiced its unwillingness to accept the associations’ offers, and the associations’ committees voiced their unwillingness to accept the district’s offers.
The district remains committed to continuing this negotiation.
John R. Mastillo, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools
Redbank Valley School District
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