SUMMIT, NJ—The Summit Education Association, which represents approximately 400 staff members in the city’s schools, and the Summit Board of Education have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.

Details of the agreement will not be announced until state approval is received and the tentative pact is presented to members of the bargaining unit, Board of Education President Michelle Stevenson reported at Thursday’s school board workshop meeting.

The education union and the school body have been negotiating since last May on a contract to replace the previous pact which expired in August, according to Kenneth Shulack, the school district’s director of human resources.

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Negotiations have been in the hands of a mediator for a few months, and the sticking point is believed to have been health care costs.

On another matter, the board on Thursday approved a $63,122,558 2012-2013 school budget with a local tax levy of $59,344,004.

School Business Administrator Louis Pepe reported that Union County school officials this week approved the Summit district’s budget, but told city school officials their contributions to the Public Employee Retirement System would increase to $873,000--$53,000 more than they anticipated.

Pepe said although some of $303,000 additional state aid received this year will be applied to the increased budget, the tax on the average Summit home attributable to the school’s will go from the original zero prediction to $14.22.

In addition to the pension cost increase, the Summit administrator said, the city schools also will have to pay $4,500 additional for out-of-district tuition costs.

He also repeated that school tax levy costs are impacted by the $12 million decrease in the value of property ratables in Summit.

On another matter, Superintendent of Schools Nathan Parker announced that Pepe has been named second vice president of the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials.

Parker added that, in addition to his duties as Summit school business administrator, Pepe is an adjunct professor of school facilities planning and accounting and school financing at Montclair State University.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Gloria Ron-Fornes, chair of the education committee announced the board would form a subcommittee to study the feasibility of full-day kindergarten in the district.

She noted Felix Gil, principal of the Wilson Primary Center, and Lauren Banker, principal of Washington School, would chair the subcommittee.

Board member, Celia Colbert, who chairs the communications committee, and school staff members as well as community representatives also will serve on the subcommittee.

On another matter, Operations Committee chair, Ed Mokuvos, announced the school district would shelve its participation in a solar energy program at this time because the market is not favorable for the program.

He said the large number of providers in the market has depressed the financial advantages of the program to the school district.  

In one of the highlights of the evening, students recognized in the 2012 Merit Scholarship Program presented their favorite teachers with books. Students, teachers and the titles of known at the meeting were:

  • William Bearden—Michael Thayer—In Pursuit of the Unknown—17 Equations That Changed the World
  • Constance Bowen—Sarah Wagner—I’m a Stranger Here Myself..Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away
  • William Brenn—scheduled to present a book to Aaron Gilbert
  • Nathan Cohen—Erik Parks—A History of the World in 100 Objects
  • James DesMoine—Jim Woods—The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Timothy Hurley—Kevin Schauer—The Name of the Wind
  • Philip Jahl—John Shipley—Your Inner Fish
  •  J.P. Lucaci—John Kratch—The Glass Bead Game
  • Claire McKenzie—Steve Rapp—Guitar Zero
  • Nicole Mion—Wayne Mallette—Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy—How Music Captures Your Imagination
  • Michael Nitzberg—Barbara Vierschilling—The Pianist
  • Gabe Rissman—Jeremy Morman—For the Love of Physics
  • Matthew Scheer—Wendy Donat—The Rough Riders
  • Timothy Schlenger—Frank Baragona—Faith and Fear in Flushing—An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets
  • Matthew Wong—Denise Velez—Education Nation

Colbert also presented Resolutions of Merit to Summit High School musicians Jordyn Gallinek and Claire McKenzie for being selected for All State music groups.

Jordyn was chosen for this year’s All State Orchestra, and Claire was selected for the All State Symphonic Band.

In addition, Jordyn was one of three finalists from throughout the state in the New Jersey Music Educator Association’s Young Composer Competition for her composition for large ensemble, “Haunted House.”