SOMERVILLE, NJ – Parents and children holding brightly-colored signs stood across the street from Van Derveer School yesterday morning in a show of support for teachers who have been working under provisions of their last contract which expired in June, 2017.
The salary schedule still in effect gives teachers an automatic pay raise on their anniversary date, which ranges up to two percent, according to Dr.Timothy Teehan, schools superintendent.
The benefit package for each employee covered under the contract ranges between $11,000 and $21,000 annually, he added.
The teachers' negotiating committee and the Board of Education negotiating committee have been meeting on the contract on a regular basis, according to Teehan.
“It’s the usual – the board and the teachers are trying to come up with an agreement that’s good for the taxpayers, good for the teachers and good for the school district,” Teehan said.
Some of the signs read “Happy Teachers Create Happy Students;” “Honk If You Support Our Teachers;” “I Stand with the Teachcers;” “I Love My VDV Teachers;” “Support the Teachers Who Support the Kids and” "We Can't Put Our Children First if We Put Our Teachers Last."
“We want them to know we are there for them,” said Michelle Frauenheim Vosk, who organized Friday’s show of support.
She has four children who attend school in the borough. “They go above and beyond for our kids every day,” she said.
“We want to let the board of education know that we are backing the teachers,” she added. “We want the best of the best for the best of the town,” she added. “We want to keep our teachers happy, our kids love them, we want to retain them; we want to see teachers start their careers here and finish their careers here.”
The 2014-17 contract contract covers over 200 teachers at the district’s three schools: Van Derveer Elementary School, Somerville Middle School and Somerville High School as well as clerical, support and custodial staff.
Frauenheim Vosk said she had only found out earlier this week that the teachers and the board had yet to settle on a new contract.
“Many of the parents had no idea, which is a testament to the character of the teachers; they haven’t brought that in to the classroom and that’s really amazing,” she said.
Similar gatherings of students to show their support of the teachers have occurred outside the district’s middle and high school over the past several weeks, according to Teehan.
Parents plan to attend the Tuesday, May 22 board meeting in the Middle School cafeteria to voice their support for the teachers, beginning at 7 p.m.