P.O. Box 909 ● Trenton, NJ 08605-0909 ● Phone: 609.695.7600 ● Fax: 609.695.0413 ● Web: www.njsba.org/PI
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NJSBA Supports Governor’s Call for Wage Freeze
TRENTON, March 24, 2010 — Local boards of education and teachers associations should heed Governor Christie’s call, issued yesterday, to reopen contract negotiations, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association, a non-partisan federation of the state’s local boards of education. The strategy could save significant money, offset the negative impact of state school funding cuts, and retain needed teaching positions.
“Because of the difficult financial times facing local school districts, NJSBA last week called on the state teachers union to urge its local affiliates to cooperate with local school boards in the reopening of contract negotiations with the goal of a wage freeze,” said Marie S. Bilik, NJSBA executive director. A sampling of local school districts conducted prior to NJSBA announcing the proposal showed that school boards would achieve significant financial savings – and retain a significant number of teaching positions – as a result of a wage freeze.
Yesterday, Christie sent a letter to NJSBA’s Bilik and NJEA President Barbara Keshishian urging that their members “go back to table and work together to find budget solutions that protect education in the classroom and limit property tax increases.”
“NJSBA appreciates the governor’s position on the reopening of local school district contracts,” said Bilik. “We hope that his strong statement yesterday will make local unions receptive to the reopening of contracts. The quality of children’s education is at stake, and all paths have to be taken to enable local school boards to retain school programs to the greatest extent possible.”
In his letter, Christie made note of Senate Bill 3, part of the pension/benefits reform package, that will require all school employees to contribute toward the cost of their health coverage. He estimated that the new law will save taxpayers $314 million next year. Reopening contracts now will extend the cost savings to more school districts now and, with a salary freeze, will “help avert cuts to classroom instruction or unneeded property tax increases,” he wrote.
“The New Jersey School Boards Association applauds Governor Christie’s commitment to providing school districts with the tools they need to control costs. We need these tools to maintain quality education,” commented Bilik.
The New Jersey School Boards Association, a federation of district boards of education, advocates the interests of school districts, trains local school board members, and provides resources for the advancement of public education.