RANDOLPH, NJ- As first addressed publicly by the Board of Education in November, the Board of Education (BOE) is currently negotiating a new three-year contract with the Randolph Education Association (REA).
In an effort to address several recent community concerns, the Board has drafted a “Q and A” overview of the process. Please CLICK HERE to be directed to the rtnj website to read the document.
Board President Tammy Mackay read the following statement at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night:
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"We would like to update the public on the status of collective negotiations between the Board of Education and the Randolph Education Association for a new teachers’ contract.
The Board of Education’s negotiating team met with the REA on Dec. 18 and exchanged proposals with a commitment to return to the table in the first week of January. In January, the REA informed the Board that they do not wish to continue negotiating with the Board and would like to wait for mediation which will not occur until the March/April timeframe. The REA feels that a third party Mediator will assist the parties in resolving our differences. The Board of Education continues to be interested in negotiating with the REA to work towards a mutually acceptable settlement as we await the mediation process. However, given the REA’s refusal to return to the negotiations table at this point in time, we are in a two-month holding pattern until mediation takes place.
Not surprisingly, the biggest sticking point in the negotiations is the salary increase. Simply put, the Board cannot agree on the REA’s salary increase demands particularly in light of the fact that the Board is looking for a reduction in the 50% payment to those who waive health benefits which the REA appears to be unwilling to change. Reimbursing employees at the current 50% of benefit cost for opting out of the benefits program is simply unsustainable. This proposed reduction in the waiver payment would help offset some of the salary increases which are being sought by the REA. While the Board strongly supports a fair settlement that will allow our teachers to earn a respectable wage for their fine work on behalf of our students, we must also bear in mind that by law we cannot increase our local tax levy by more than two percent annually without a vote. This creates significant fiscal pressure in developing and maintaining the District’s annual school budgets. Negotiations must be a give and take.
The Board is aware that there are some teachers who are refusing to offer help to students or let students in their classrooms before and after school and during lunch. We are extremely disappointed that some teachers have chosen to withhold such services and thus harm their students, in a misguided effort to influence the contract negotiations process. We are trying to offer creative solutions to address the need for additional help in the high school by modifying the contractual schedule and creating extra help time during the day. This new program was implemented successfully last week and again today. While teachers have the right to work to the letter of their contract, the Administration will not tolerate teachers abdicating their professional responsibilities, such as writing college recommendations, since this is not contractual in nature, but part and parcel of a teacher’s professional responsibilities.
We have posted a Q & A on the website about negotiations and continue to appreciate your support as we engage in this process."