BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ -- Bernards Township schools teachers and many staffers will receive a salary increase of more than 9 percent added up over the next three years.

The township Board of Education agreed to the three-year contract Monday night after the members of the Bernards Township Education Association ratified it in the last week.

Superintendent Nick Markarian said the contract provides for salary guide increases of 3.16, 3.0 and 3.0 percent, respectively, over the next three years. He said the 3.0 percent increase for all members of the bargaining unit was an association goal.

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Teachers at the beginning of the guide (bachelor’s degree with no experience) are paid an annual salary of $48,426 under the contract that expires June 30. Next year, starting teachers would be paid $51,427, with the beginning salary going to $52,872 in 2020-21 and $54,380 in 2021-22, he said.

Salaries increase for each year of service, or “step,” and for higher education levels – bachelor’s degree plus 30 credits, master’s degree, master’s plus 30, and doctorate. The top of the guide was $99,700. The district has a significant number of teachers with master’s degrees, Markarian said.

In the expiring contract, teachers with a master’s degree at step one are paid $54,515. A master’s plus 30 credits brings $58,270 and a doctorate $59,270.

Markarian said the association made concessions on some aspects of health benefits. It agreed to higher co-payments on office visits to the doctor and prescriptions and an out-of-network deductible.

He said the association agreed to another staff training day, which will be taken by telecommuting (using a computer at home) without affecting the school calendar.

About 580 members of the approximately 800-member bargaining unit are teachers, with school and instructional aides, secretaries, nurses, and other certificated personnel making up the difference. Salaries take well more than half of the nearly $98 million in general current expense in the next year’s school budget.

Markarian said June 3 that the two sides agreed in principle following a six- or seven-hour bargaining session that broke up minutes after midnight into Thursday, May 29.

Markarian said Monday night the school is largely a “human-centered institution”, and he thanked all involved for “keeping focused on what “is best for the students.”

Board president Robin McKeon said she was happy to seal the deal before the end of the school year. She gave BTEA co-president Melanie DuPuis a hug and a bag of candy for members of the negotiating team.