Education

As Newark Teachers Near Contract Settlement, No Sign of Progress in Paterson

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Paterson teachers protested their lack of a contract in the spring
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PATERSON, NJ – As Newark educators prepare to vote on a tentative contract agreement that’s been hailed as historic because of its use of bonuses and peer review, Paterson’s teachers are in their third year without a contract.

Newark’s proposed contract would give $5,000 bonuses for teachers rated as “highly effective” as well as $5,000 bonuses for teachers assigned to schools with the greatest need, according to a story on NJ Spotlight. In addition to the bonuses, the contract includes annual raises.

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The president of the Paterson teacher’s union, Peter Tirri, said city education officials also have proposed a deal that would feature merit pay. But in Paterson, officials are not offering regular annual raises in addition to the merit pay, said Tirri of the Paterson Education Association (PEA).

“We’re not buying into that,’’ said the union president.

Paterson Public Schools spokeswoman Terry Corallo did not respond to an email seeking the district’s input on the contract negotiations. At the October 24 Board of Education meeting, state-appointed superintendent Donnie Evans told the commissioners that there were some developments in employee contract talks that he planned to discuss with them at a closed session in November. It was not clear whether Evans was referring to the teachers’ contract, or negotiations with another union.

Tirri said union and district representatives met with a fact-finder on October 10 and have another session scheduled for November 26. “We want to get this thing done,’’ Tirri said.

In early September, the teachers union voted for its members not to perform any voluntary extracurricular activities until the contract is resolved.

Tirri blamed Gov. Chris Christie and state education commissioner Christopher Cerf for the lack of progress. “They definitely have their finger on the negotiations,’’ said the union president. Paterson schools, like those in Newark, are under state control.

Tirri said Paterson had a bonus program for its teachers about 15 years ago. “The district ended it because everybody was getting more money,’’ he said.

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