BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The contract between the Bridgewater-Raritan Board of Education and the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association has been finalized.
 
Board member Jeffrey Brookner, the negotiations committee chair, announced the terms of the agreement, which will run through June 30, 2022, at Tuesday’s board meeting. The board approved the resolution by a 9-0 vote.
 
“The board would like to thank the members of the B-REA negotiations committee and the board’s own negotiations committee for their hard work and ongoing collaboration,” said Brookner in a prepared statement.
 
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Brookner  said in June that the school board's negotiating committee was “very close” to an agreement with the B-REA, which represents the district’s school teachers. The district's teachers had been working without a new contract for the last few years.

The association's previous three-year contract expired in July 2018, and the district and union have been in negotiations since early 2018, with mediation sessions and more. In early 2019, a memorandum of agreement was approved for a one-year contract, retroactive to July 2018, and expiring July 2019.

According to the agreement, both parties mutually agreed on salary guides that will begin by providing a 3 percent increase during the 2019-2020 school year. That increase will drop to 2.85 percent in 2020-2021, and rise to 2.895 percent in 2021-2022.
 
A one-time increase of 2 percent will also be made in 2021-2022, to stipends listed in the salary guide.
 
The agreement also involves changes to health benefits.

 
Prescription co-pays doubled for both generic and brand-name drugs, going from $5 to $10 for generics and from $10 to $20 for brand names. One co-pay per 30-day drug supply will apply to all covered prescription drugs which are purchased through retail pharmacies, and mail-order drugs will see a one-time co-pay for a 90-day supply.
 
An option also exists for any B-REA member to opt to move from his or her current health plan to a less expensive one, during any open enrollment period. Those individuals who choose to do so will receive a one-time, non-pensionable lump sum payment that will be equal to 35 percent of the difference between the cost of then-current premiums (board shares of premium only) and the less expensive plan.
 
“Congratulations to all of us,” said board president Jill Gladstone.
 
B-REA president Laura Kress was not able to attend Tuesday’s meeting due to illness, but a representative from the association read from a prepared statement, in which Kress said the B-REA had ratified the agreement. The statement also said the association looked forward to collaborating with the school board, while ironing out any present matters and those that might arise in the future.
 
The representative said she would pass along the school board’s thanks to Kress.
 
Kress said at a May board meeting that she represented over 1,100 individuals through the B-REA. She had said the B-REA needed to get three years in a new deal, and that the board also needed three years.