As of the end of March, 56 New Jersey school districts had not yet settled their collectively negotiated teachers’ contracts. Included in that number are 11 districts that were unsettled for contracts that expired in 2012 or earlier. For districts with contracts that expired last June (169), 27 percent remain in negotiations or some form of impasse procedure. That’s a slight decrease from this time last year, when 32 percent of districts with contracts that expired the prior June remained unsettled. Another 208 districts across the state have contracts that will expire this June 30.
While NJSBA urges negotiations committees to bargain with a primary focus on their board’s ability to pay, rather than relying mainly on comparative settlements in surrounding school districts, board members, especially those on the negotiating team, should be knowledgeable about settlement data and current trends in contract negotiations. Comparative data can provide boards with a sense of what other districts are agreeing to. It can also provide board members with a sense of how competitive their district is in various areas, such as pay and work time, as well as the overall negotiations climate, before sitting down at the negotiating table.
For contracts settled since Jan. 1, 2013, the average increase – inclusive of increment – for the 2013-2014 school year is 2.39 percent, 2.45 percent for 2014-2015, and 2.47 percent for 2015-2016. The average increases are up slightly from this time last year, when the average increase was 2.19 percent for 2013-2014.
View the Entire Contract Term
It is important when examining the settlement rates that you view the settlement in its entirety. Viewing a single year’s settlement rate, when the term of the collective bargaining agreement is two years, three years or more, can lead to misleading conclusions and comparisons. (Longer contracts are now permitted under a newly signed law. See the Labor Lookout column that begins on page 38.) It has been observed in several reported settlements that some districts are putting more of the money in one or two years of the agreement, with less money (or even a wage freeze) in other year(s). Wage freezes were reported in nine districts for the 2013-2014 school year.
Another area to consider in assessing settlement rates is givebacks from the teachers’ association, which not only factor into how you view that settlement, but also the effective cost of that settlement. For example, a district may have gotten more student contact time, achieved a cap on tuition reimbursement, eliminated a longevity provision, or obtained some other type of change that can help put those increases in the proper perspective.
NJSBA has determined through individual district surveys that 71 percent of settlements covering the 2013-2014 school year have reported some type of concession from the association. The most notable board achievement being reported is an increase in work time, with 31 percent of districts gaining some type of workday changes. Some examples of these achievements are adding days to the calendar, lengthening the workday, or simply restructuring the current workday to allow for more student contact time. This is up from this time last year, when 26 percent of districts reported a work time achievement.
The table accompanying this story displays a selection of recent settlements – those which have been agreed upon in the last 12 months. More detailed data is available at www.njsba.org/members-only/current-negotiations-data.php (password required). For specific reports based upon your selected criteria (i.e. similar enrollment group), members may also contact Sandy Raup at (609) 278-5224.
|County||District||Contract Years||Settlement Date||2013-14||2014-15||2015-16||*Other Achievements|
|Camden||Magnolia||2013-16||May 2013||2.00||2.00||1.75||Add’l steps added to salary guide; lower longevity for new employees|
|Passaic||Lakeland Reg||2013-16||May 2013||2.20||2.10||2.00||Increase in prep periods to give extra help and assist supervisors from 22 forty minute periods to 60 periods for the school year; teachers are also staying 10 minutes longer every day|
|Burlington||Mansfield||2013-16||June 2013||2.85||2.90||2.95||Added 20 minutes to work day; added 2 days to work year|
|Somerset||Bernards||2013-16||June 2013||2.15||2.15||2.15||Add’l 6 hours of professional development time|
|Middlesex||South Plainfield||2013-16||July 2013||2.20||2.20||2.20||1 additional day|
|Monmouth||Freehold Boro||2013-16||July 2013||2.54||2.66||2.20||1 add’l professional development day added to calendar; reduction of 2 half teaching days to full instructional days|
|Bergen||Rochelle Park||2013-16||Aug. 2013||2.40||2.40||2.30||2 add’l professional development days|
|Bergen||Oakland||2013-16||Sept. 2013||2.90||2.70||2.50||Moving into SEHBP from private plan resulting in considerable savings for district|
|Gloucester||West Deptford||2013-16||Sept. 2013||2.50||2.60||2.60||Eliminated longevity for future employees; hourly rate for non-student contact duties reduce approx. 10% in 2013-14|
|Atlantic||Egg Harbor City||2013-16||Nov. 2013||2.30||2.50||2.60|
|Hunterdon||Lebanon Twp||2013-16||Dec. 2013||2.75||2.50||2.25||Add’l professional development day in year 1; add’l instructional day in year 3; increased dental deductibles and increase in annual maximum coverage; eliminated payment for waiving benefits; increase to 25 hours per week for benefits eligibility|
|Burlington||Riverton||2013-16||Jan. 2014||3.90||3.10||2.50||Increase of student contact time of 10 mins. (year 2) and 15 mins. (year 3); attendance at 2 evening parent/student events without compensation; increase evening conference time without compensation|
|Warren||Phillipsburg||2013-16||Jan. 2014||2.25||2.15||2.15||Reductions made to medical opt-outs in each of the 3 years; teachers agreed to 2 collaboration sessions per month and participation in parent conferences during prep periods for no add’l compensation; some changes in contract language|
|Union||Mountainside||2013-16||Feb. 2014||2.50||2.50||2.50||Increase in instruction time by 10 minutes|
|Warren||Greenwich Twp||2013-16||Mar. 2014||2.00||2.00||3.00|