After Two Years Without, Teachers Get Their Contract
Board of Education announced its ratification of a new pact with Parsippany educators.
Parsippany teachers are feeling "disrespected" no more.
The pact was ratified by the union Feb. 6.
Among the provisions:
- The contract calls for a retroactive wage freeze for 2011-12, to include full-time employees, hourly rates, co-curricular stipends and all other "extra pay." Base salaries will be increased 3 percent for 2012-13, 2.5 percent for 2013-14 and 2.5 percent in 2014-15.
- The agreement includes a new provision regarding health costs: "Part-time teachers shall not be eligible for employer-paid health benefits unless such employees work at least 60 percent of the work hours required of full-time employees. All part-time employees employed as of Jan. 1, 2012, who are receiving employer-paid health benefits shall be grandfathered under this provision."
- Health benefits for full-time employees, effective Jan. 1, 2013, will require them to pay increased co-pays and deductibles. Those who opt out of district health insurance will be eligible to receive 40 percent of the annual cost of the premium paid.
- And as of Jan. 1, 2013, all new employees will be enrolled in the Board's Direct Access Health Insurance Plan for the first three years of their employement with the district. After that, they may join the board's PPO health insurance plan.
- Tuition reimbursement is part of the pact, but only for full time teachers who receive a grade of B or better (or "pass" in a pass/fail course). A tuition maximum for all employees will be set at $220,000 per year, starting in 2013-14. If the maximum is not reached, the money will be forfeited. If an employee who took advantage of this plank leaves the job prior to the end of the contract, she or he must reimburse the district for whatever tuition the district paid.
The news was hailed by the many educators in blue PTHEA shirts in attendance.
Intervale School counselor Donna O'Donnell, once informed that the contract had passed, shouted, "Yay!"
"I'm very happy," Doreen Worthington, a third grade teacher at Intervale, concurred. "I'm just so glad it's over."
The teachers also hailed the school board's decision to kill member James Carifi's plan to amend district policy 5111, to eject or demand tuition from 10 students from the school system whose parents, district employees, live out of Parsippany.
A debate ensued between Carifi and board member Dr. Frank Calabria over the matter. Carifi insisted that educating the 10 students cost the district $1 million.
Calabria asked in return what the district would save by kicking out the children. Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz indicated that the answer was zero.
Parsippany Hills High School parent Sandy Nussbaum Giercyk, who described herself as a "parent, taxpayer and PTSA president" urged the board to defeat Carifi's proposal, stating that the board's very integrity was at stake and that to do otherwise would show a lack of compassion.
The vote came down to a 4-4 split over largely factional lines. (President Susy Golderer was not in attendance; Vice President Sharif Shamsudin presided in her absence.)
Members Michael Strumolo, Gary Martin, Anthony DeIntinis and Carifi voted in favor of ejecting the students. Calabria, Fran Orthwein, Anthony Mancuso and Shamsudin voted no. Because it was a tie vote, the motion was defeated.
PTHEA President Judy Mayer said all in all she was encouraged by both votes.
"Very nice," she said regarding the new teacher contract. "We are very pleased that we can now move on."
Mayer said that the vote not to approve the Carifi policy was a bold, positive step for the board.
"I think that with the vote, the board took a big step that showed good faith. I would've been disappointed had they done that."
Vice President Shamsudin, aligned for the past two years with Golderer, Martin and Strumolo, surprised some by breaking ranks to vote against the proposed policy change.
"I couldn't do that to the kids," he explained to Patch. "Our first responsibility is to the children. At times I have to vote with my heart, my conscience. I would never want to put a child in the position of having to start all over.
"My heart is with the kids."
For more coverage from Tuesday's school board meeting, read: Seitz Resigns as Superintendent of Schools.