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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.

At its meeting Tuesday night at Parsippany High School, the Board of Education by unanimous vote approved a memorandum of agreement between itself and the Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association.

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 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.

Carol M. February 14, 2013 at 02:39 PM
I couldn't agree with you more Ms Jane. I was on the edge of my seat with that vote and am glad to see the conversation about preventing those children from competing there education here in Parsippany finally come to an end. Maybe now Mr Carifi will move on to doing good for children rather then trying to hurt them. I'm sure there's a lot that can be done to benefit the taxpayer AND children at the same time so it's time to focus on that and get over the campaign promises garbage. Mr Carifi needs to decide which master he plans on serving; is it if those he made promises to or the education of Parsippany's children?
steve revette February 14, 2013 at 04:39 PM
Like I've said many times I don't care one way or the other but let's be honest here. Let's be realistic here. What if it was the other way around. Say 1 of those kids was in a class of 25 making it 26 would it be okay to say it's only 1 student over the max? We all know it would absolutely not be okay. Policies like this are asking for trouble from the very beginning. We're suppose to be taking conflict of interest out of the school and policies like this throw them right back in there. The kids want to stay that is fine. I know that we don't save a million dollars for those kids leaving but Dr. Seitz said we wouldn't save a penny and like I said if that is proven to be not true then it sets up for even MORE controversy regarding this issue making it more then likely it could come back. When they ajdusted the policy the should have made it where when the kids graduate from the school they were currently in and let that be the end of it. Also I like the fact that the staff of children got showed compassion but maybe the teacher that treated me badly should have showed me some compassion even though I wasn't a child of a teacher.
VietNam Vet February 18, 2013 at 07:45 AM
Mr. Shamsudin couldn't do that to the children, but he has no problem with doing it to the taxpayers who will foot the bill once again for these kids. Thanks a lot Mr. S
VietNam Vet February 18, 2013 at 07:53 AM
Alan I so agree with you. We have foot the bill for these kids for to long now, when does this town and the BOE start thinking about the taxpayers once in awhile. Its time to throw these teachers and their free loading kids out of town for the good of the people who pay their salaries. They are paid an average of $ 75,000 or more and they can't aford to pick up at least part of the tab. What kind of teachers did we hire in this town, its always gimme gimme gimme. How about giving a little back to the taxpayers once in awhile, have some compassion or don't they know what that means anymore.
David Comora February 18, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Glad this is over and happy the board defeated the Carifi plan. Still amazed that he and 3 other board members can't seem to understand that these are fixed costs and there are no savings by kicking the kids out mid year. As for the plan this new board approved to provide 3%, 2.5% and 2.5% increases to teachers over the next 3 years, I wonder where that money will come from, given the 2% tax cap. I'm assuming we're saving enough with the other modifications to adjust for this? But given the fact the 4 members of the board cannot grasp the concept of fixed costs, I'm a mor than a little skeptical.

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