BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Bridgewater-Raritan board of education and the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association have reached a one-year deal for a contract, retroactive to July 2018, and each party has signed a memorandum of agreement to move forward.

According to B-REA president Laura Kress, the two parties signed off for the one-year agreement, set to last from July 1, 2018 through July 1, 2019, at a mediation session Jan. 15. At this point, she said, all the members of the B-REA are aware of the signed agreement.

Kress said the contract is not yet formalized because they are waiting on salary guides and other language for the contract, all of which will take a few weeks to get straightened out, before it can be officially approved.

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In addition, Kress said, mediation will continue with a meeting set for Jan. 21 and another in February, with the goal of negotiating the full three-year contract.

"We mutually worked really hard at coming to a satisfactory agreement," she said. "Both sides feel happy and relieved right now, and emotons seem to have settled, although both sides are operating with caution."

Once all the language and salary guides are finalized, the B-REA membership can offically ratify the one-year agreement.

Kress declined to detail any specifics in the contract regarding health benefits and other changes because of privacy issues.

With a one-year contract in place, Kress said, the B-REA is also withdrawing all the actions it had taken over the past few months regarding the elimination of clubs and other volunteer work that the teachers were doing in the schools. That, Kress said, is effective immediately, and any teacher that is still available and planning to volunteer to run or start a club or participate in non-PTO and other activities will be free to do so.

"But if we don't have a contract by July, we will pick up our actions where we left off, starting in September," she said, explaining that the clubs and other volunteer work will stop again at the start of the 2019 school year if a contract is not settled by the time the one-year agreement expires. "For now, we are good, and everything is reinstated."