JACKSON – Superintendent Stephen Genco and School Board President Scott Sargent announced recently that an agreement had been reached in the negotiation of teacher contracts.
Carol Ann Mould, who heads the Jackson Education Association, said the agreement includes percentage settlements for the life of the contract of 3.1 percent, 3.0 percent, and 3.0 percent.
“It is important to note that the percentage each year is applied to the total monies allocated for staff salaries, not to each individual employee,” Mould said. She added that the “new amount is spread throughout the salary guides in a collaborative process between the JEA and the Board of Education.”
The school board and JEA were pleased with the time factor it took to establish the new contract. During a May 16 Board of Education meeting teachers showed up wearing red shirts to demonstrate solidarity.
During that meeting, Mould described teachers, guidance counselors, child study team members, paraprofessionals and secretaries last spring as being “dedicated, passionate and devoted. We pour our hearts and souls into every student we work with.”
“In all my years being involved in negotiations of contracts I’ve never seen all parties come to the table so completely prepared with the result being such a smooth process,” Sargent said.
“Comparatively speaking, the negotiations process was shorter than most districts throughout the county and state experience. We were all very grateful and pleased that both sides could work together in a professional, collaborative manner in order to achieve a mutually satisfactory settlement,” Mould said.
Mould said that the JEA represents approximately 1,000 employees throughout the Jackson Township School District, including teachers, secretaries, and paraprofessionals.
The agreement is retroactive to Sept. 1, 2017 and is effective immediately upon ratification by the members of both parties.
One concern expressed early on in the negotiation process was employee’s contribution to their health benefits package.
Chapter 78, New Jersey’s pension and health benefits reform, requires that the percentage rate of contribution be determined based on the employee’s annual salary and the selected level of coverage.
Mould said that “for years, as a result of PL 2011 under Chapter 78, JEA members have paid more than their fair share towards the cost of health benefits. In this contract, as per the guidelines under this law, we will never pay less than the required 1.5 percent.”
The district could, in the future, require employees to contribute more to lessen the burden on the district and taxpayers.