Livingston BOE Reviews School Calendar and Ratifies New Contracts

LIVINGSTON, NJ - The Livingston Board of Education had a calendar discussion and ratified employment contracts at Monday evening's meeting.

Calendar Discussion

Interim Superintendent Steven Robinson introduced two calendar options for the 2015-16 school year. Each calendar will provide more flexibility in the case of extensive inclement weather, as was the case this past winter, according to Robinson. The most extensive difference between the two options is in the spring semester.

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A partial breakdown of the two calendars is as follows:

Calendar A:

  • Full week of February break, starting with President’s Day

  • One day off in March (Good Friday)

  • A full week of April break

  • Three days are included in case of inclement weather. If a fourth day is needed, it would be taken from the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend

Calendar B:

  • A five-day weekend in February, from the 12th to the 16th

  • An extended spring break from March 25 to April 1

  • Includes four emergency days for inclement weather. If a fifth day is necessary, it would be taken from the Friday before Memorial Day. If a sixth day is necessary, it would be taken from a professional development day. Any days in excess of six would be taken from the spring break.

Copies of both calendars are available as attachments to this week’s Board agenda on the District website.

Both Robinson and Winograd voiced their support for calendar option B.

“From a continuity standpoint, I think having one longer break in the Spring is better for the children,” Winograd said. “I know when my kids come back from a break, it’s hard for them to get back into the flow of school and doing homework.”

The Board also devoted time to discussing the scheduling of elementary level summary parent-teacher conferences in the spring. Traditionally, the spring conferences have taken place over a set three-day period in which the elementary schools have partial days. Robinson recommended the elimination of the period in an effort to increase instructional time by having full days; he agreed to explore flexible scheduling at the insistence of multiple Board members.

“These conferences are very important because teachers and parents can have a face-to-face interaction in which they document areas of concern and areas of progress. It gives parents a mechanism or vehicle to understand what’s going on with their child,” Board member David Jasin said.

“The fall conferences establishes a baseline of expectations, while the spring conferences give [parents] a summary of the year.”

Contract Signings

The Board ratified the employment contracts for the district’s two collective bargaining units, the Livingston Education Association and the Livingston Administrators Association, effective July 1, 2014 and running through June 30, 2017.

The vote for the ratification of the LEA contract was unanimously approved, while Board member Arthur Altman submitted a “No” vote for the contract between the Board and the LAA.

“While I would have approved the generous salary increases, I cannot in good conscience support adding to and enhancing some of the extra perks dictated by this contract,” Altman said.

Some of the “perks” described by Altman include longevity increases in salary, which would add a specific amount of salary after increase after an individual has served a set period of time, such as seven or 10 years. The contract calls for increased 403(b) contributions from the district. It also calls for increasing the per diem rate for unused sick days, as well as allowing administrators to “bank” or save unused vacation days for a future payout upon retirement.

“With all due respect to our talented administrators… it’s time to cap sunset pay and eliminate backdoor compensation,” Altman said.

Several Board members voiced their disagreements with Altman’s claims.

“To be honest, I resent the term ‘perks’ being used to describe the conditions of the contract,” Winograd said. “In my private sector job, I have extensive experience consulting for executive-level compensation and I think to describe these measures as ‘perks’ is extremely misleading. Compared to some of our peer districts, the contract is actually conservative in some ways.”

Funt echoed Winograd’s sentiments. “We negotiated with [the LEA and LAA] in good faith and I believe we have come up with a very fair, responsible contract. I stand by it fully.”

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