The New Jersey School Boards Association collects and maintains a database of teacher contract bargaining data, including settlement rates, selected contract terms, salary guides, insurance matters, and more.
NJSBA urges school board 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. However, 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.
Data on Contracts Expiring in June The results of a recent survey of New Jersey school districts with teachers’ contracts that expired on June 30, 2016, with 93 percent of the districts responding, has found that a collectively negotiated agreement has been reached for 78 of the 180 expired contracts. Some of those agreements are still awaiting ratification by the local union membership.
In addition, overall, there are still approximately 30 districts whose contracts expired in 2015 or earlier, that have not yet reached an agreement. The results of the survey also indicate that 47 percent are still at the bargaining table, and 46 percent are in the mediation, factfinding, or super-conciliation process.
For settled contracts, the average increase – inclusive of increment – for the 2015-2016 school year is 2.57 percent, 2.63 percent for 2016-2017, and 2.66 percent for 2017-2018. The average increases are up slightly from this time last year, when the average increase was 2.52 percent for 2015-2016 and 2.53 percent for 2016-2017.
Board Achievements In considering settlement rates, board members should also consider givebacks from the teachers’ association, which can impact the effective cost of that settlement. For example, a district may have bargained for more student contact time, achieved a cap on tuition reimbursement, moved to a less expensive health insurance plan, eliminated a longevity provision, or obtained some other type of change that can help put salary increases in the proper perspective.
NJSBA has determined through individual district surveys that 77 percent of settlements covering the 2015-2016 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 41 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 39 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 in the Current Negotiations Data section of the NJSBA website. Go to www.njsba.org/services/labor-relations and then select the first item, “Current Negotiations Data.” A member password is required to access the information. For specific reports based upon your selected criteria (i.e. similar enrollment group), members may also contact Sandy Raup at (609) 278-5224.