September 14, 2013 at 12:00 AM
MADISON, NJ - At its public meeting on Tuesday, the Madison Board of Education voted to approve a new contract with the Madison Education Association.
The MEA membership, which includes teachers, teacher assistants and secretaries, accepted the agreement at a voting session which took place on Monday, Sept. 9. The three-year agreement, which covers the period from July 1, 2013 until June 30, 2016, brings closure to a negotiations process that began earlier this year.
Matt Millichap, co-chair of the MEA's negotiations committee, noted, "We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Board. Negotiation sessions were quite positive with a tone of collaboration as each side articulated its viewpoints and gave respectful consideration to the other side's ideas. The agreements all seem fair and reasonable. Our association ratified by a wide margin, showing satisfaction amongst our membership which will help to foster a positive climate throughout our school district."
The Madison School District continues to face financial challenges driven by state aid figures that continue to fall well below those awarded in the 1999-2000 school year. The MEA will face increased contributions to health care over the course of the next few years. In the face of these challenges the negotiations team came up with a creative phased settlement that will help to offset some of the financial difficulties on both sides. The new contract provides for an increase of 2.9 percent for 2013-2014 school years but the increase is effective February 1, 2014. The increases for the second and third years are 1.5 percent and 2.85 percent respectively. The average annual salary increase for the life of the contract is 2.4 percent. The agreement also calls for slight increases to the extra-curricular stipends.
Board President Lisa Ellis, chair of the board's negotiating team, said, "The Madison School District has continued to not only thrive but to improve in the face of serious financial challenges. This is due largely to the outstanding professionalism of our staff and the wonderful sense of collaboration and teamwork that is shared throughout the district. Open communication, the ability to see both sides of an issue and come up with a compromise position, is reflected in our day to day relationships and was carried throught the negotiations process resulting in a contract that is fair for the Voard, the MEA, our students and the Madison community. The Board extends its appreciation to the MEA for their continued partnership. Working together in the face of tough challenges insures that we can continue to meet the needs of all our students."