NEWARK, NJ - The Newark Board of Education and Newark Teachers’ Union reached a tentative five-year agreement that gives teachers annual raises and eliminates performance-based bonuses.
In documents shared online Tuesday, the NTU highlighted changes from the prior contract that expired this June.
Those changes for the 2019-2023 school year contract include:
Average 3% annual salary increase. Starting this school year, teachers will receive a 2.91% salary increase that will steadily increase to 3.332% for the 2023-2024 school year. The average increase for the state is 3.04%.
Performance-based bonus pay eliminated. There are no longer bonuses for teachers who achieve a highly effective rating. Teachers who receive poor ratings will not be denied salary increases either.
All employees will advance toward maximum payment steps each year. Teachers already at the max will receive $1,215.
Higher salaries for teachers with advanced degrees. Teachers with masters will receive $1,000 and those with PhDs will receive $2,000 more. In September 2020, the differences will double to $2,000 and $4,000.
Union members will vote to ratify the contract on Monday, August 26 before a final agreement is settled.
“I’m happy with the increments. I’m more of a realist,” said Vickie Litterio, a science teacher at First Avenue Elementary School approaching her third year in the district. “I think they’re generous in the contract. Overall, the numbers have gone up and that's a good thing.”
As of September 2020, teachers will receive $60 more in discretionary funds for a total $150. Teachers typically use this to purchase additional school supplies for students.
Other changes in the contract feature increases in personal development funds and tuition reimbursement program. Teachers who enter an advanced program for certification to fill a hard to staff positions are eligible for an even larger reimbursement per credit.
The previous contract awarded bonuses to teachers who received effective and highly effective evaluations at the end of the year. This contract eliminates the bonus as well language that withheld teachers from salaries increase for ineffective ratings.
While the system does seem fairer, many teachers may not be too happy about it, said Litterrio.
“I know of a lot of teachers that did get highly effective this year and the union promised that we're going to get the bonus,” said Litterrio. “We actually just found out we’re not. There are teachers that were waiting all summer for their bonus because it was from last school year.”
Salaries raise payment steps changed as well. All employees will advance to toward maximum payment steps each year under the new contract.
The steps went according to the number of years that a teacher worked with some steps being a combination of several years.
Under the new contract, elementary teachers will be guaranteed at least five periods a week with three of those self-directed by the teacher. Three were guaranteed in the previous contract. However, within the three preps, one of them was a weekly grade level meeting and the other was a meeting for all teachers of the same subject.