BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Board of Education member Doug Reinstein provided an update on the status of the teacher’s contract negotiations at Thursday's Board of Education Meeting held at Columbia Middle School.
Reinstein, who chairs the board’s negotiations team, said that during negotiations there has been an impression expressed on social media that the board did not approve of the job its teachers were doing.
He added that the education board, within the constraints of its budget, wants to support its teachers financially in the best way possible.
The negotiator added, however, that the board is under a state-mandated 2 percent “cap” on spending, and, if it uses the entire 2 percent for teacher salary increases it will have to cut in other areas necessary to the schools.
Reinstein, noted that both the board and the teachers’ union have been frustrated by the unavailability of a state mediator since negotiations entered that phase. He added the two groups held three meetings—in April, May and June—before the union declared an impasse at the end of June and a mediator was called in.
He added that the mediator was not available again until September, and, at that session another meeting was set for December.
The board negotiator also said the school body is willing to meet with the teachers’ unit outside the mediation process.
Another misconception which he said he would like to dispel was that teachers were working without a contract, when, in fact they still are working under terms of the existing contract.
Reinstein concluded that the board is committed to a settlement that will be fair and equitable to all parties.