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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.

steve revette February 13, 2013 at 04:40 AM
Congratulations to all those wonderful and professional teachers who got their contract. Hopefully those who may not have deserved it Learn from their co workers and become better at their jobs. Now even more shocking I can't believe Dr. Seitz is leaving along with the Business Administrator. I think it's time to Put Dr. Gigante where she belongs at the position of Superintendent.
Nick Limanov February 13, 2013 at 05:06 AM
I am so happy that the teachers finally got what they have been waiting for- They really deserve it! Our teachers, administrators, and staff in the Parsippany School District is truly the best and what makes Parsippany such a great place! I also would like to say thank you to Dr.Seitz for all he has done for the district and wish him good luck in the future. I am now a senior and have to say that I had the best years of my life thank you to everybody in the Parsippany School District.
Citizen Jane February 13, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Glad to see Mr. Shamsudin had the strength to follow his conscience about the out of district kids, this was one of those times where the practical concerns for 10 kids and their families overcame a fiscal position & political promise. I can appreciate the attempts to cut costs, but once that was determined to be neglible, it was time to rethink. Glad a contract has been agreed to also, time to move forward and figure out why Parsippany HS is not doing as well as the Hills! I would love to hear from administrators and educators why the difference and how PHS can be improved.
steve revette February 13, 2013 at 02:13 PM
I don't mind one way or the other about whether or not they stay or go. However the truth is we don't know how much it costs. Like I said one of those kids needs a paraprofessional then you can't say you wouldn't be saving money because it would be one less position. Also I really hope our board learned a valuable lesson because you can argue it anyway you want, and like I said I don't care one way or the other, this was a ridiculous policy from the very beginning and was just setting up for controversy. It never should have been allowed in the first place.
g February 13, 2013 at 05:08 PM
I am so glad the teachers got their raise. All it took was a little manupulation of test scores to make them look good. From the list of the 2012 Top High Schools Parsippany Hills from 50 in 2010 to 23 in 2012. Although Parsippany has shown great improved, how did this happen when Parsippany High School and 10 other schools—the district would not reveal which—failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks in Language Arts Literacy and Mathematics, according to Interim Curriculum and Instruction Director Ruth Anne Estler.? The answer is quite simple. You water down the Federal no child left beheind. The Obama administration announced that 10 states, including New Jersey, were granted waivers from having to adhere to federal No Child Left Behind standardized testing benchmarks. The waiver comes at a fortunate time for Parsippany. Eleven of the district's 14 schools did not meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards as of the end of the last school year. How do you get higher standing in the top schools in New Jersey? You water down the federal No Child Left Behind standardized testing benchmarks. It sure looks like manipulation, so that teachers to get raises while our students get the shaft.
Robert Jamieson February 13, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Steve, While the policy may have been ridiculous from the beginning, the public does not save much money by throwing ten kids out of the school district. At the BOE meeting last night it was stated that a student's cost is roughly $13,000 and that the ten children in question have cost Parsippany $1,000,000. This seems like a lot of money, but by kicking them out we (the town) do not magically get $1,000,000 to spend. The cost of the child is arrived (according to the information presented at the BOE meeting last night) by taking the operating budget and dividing it by student population. 10 children in a population of roughly 7,000 students is 0.14%. Anyone involved in finance or business would agree that a fluctuation of less than 0.15% in your population does not equate to substantial savings in overhead. This would qualify as a standard fluctuation, especially given in dealing with people (families move in and out of the district all of the time). You state at least one child needs a paraprofessional. If the paraprofessional was hired to solely care for that child and if that child were to leave and the paraprofessional let go, then you have your savings of that salary per year. Is that salary worth disrupting and uprooting the lives of ten children? Is that salary worth having the Board of Ed and by extension the town of Parsippany made out to be liars?
Robert Jamieson February 13, 2013 at 07:35 PM
G, So the Parsippany's teachers manipulated the state into getting a waiver, so they could ‘coast’ and get a really ‘great’ contract that gives raises at a lower rate than the increase in cost of living and cuts back their benefits from where they were a decade ago. A waiver, by the way, that Governor Chris Christie, the poster boy for frivolous spending and staunch advocate of Parsippany’s administrators and teachers, endorsed: Gov. Chris Christie has announced that the Obama Administration has approved New Jersey's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver application. "We are once again proving that New Jersey is leading the way on the issues that matter most to our children's future and our shared future as a state and nation. The Obama Administration's approval of our education reform agenda contained in this application confirms that our bold, common sense and bipartisan reforms are right for New Jersey and shared by the President and Secretary Duncan's educational vision for the country," said Christie. G please take off the aluminum hat and join us in the real world – it’s not that scary and you may even enjoy yourself.
Mike February 13, 2013 at 08:36 PM
There outlies the problem...the 4 Carifi followers voted to oust the kids and the other 4 that aren't on Carifi's side voted against. Seems like the 5th wheel in that group wasn't there and which way would she have voted...probably with the "i" in team group...Everyone was told about the "i" team group....
g February 13, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Robert G, how do you explain the following: Parsippany High School and 10 other schools—the district would not reveal which—failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks in Language Arts Literacy and Mathematics, according to Interim Curriculum and Instruction Director Ruth Anne Estler.? The waiver comes at a fortunate time for Parsippany. Eleven of the district's 14 schools did not meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards as of the end of the last school year. How do you get higher standing in the top schools in New Jersey? You water down the federal No Child Left Behind standardized testing benchmarks. Robert G, When 10 schools did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks does that man teachers are doing a good job? WOW Teachers gain students lose.
steve revette February 14, 2013 at 12:59 AM
I don't know any of those kids. And I said it doesn't matter to me one way or the other. However I wanted it to be right so this doesn't come up in the future. If Dr. Seitz said there is no cost savings and it turns out that there could have been a para professional position elminated then it gives these members a reason to go revisit the policy again. Like I said I don't care one way or the other but the board of education set itself up for trouble with a policy like this from the very beginning. Also I'm not being a bad guy and I have no Ill will against those 10 kids.
Robert Jamieson February 14, 2013 at 01:01 AM
G, I must have misunderstood your initial post - I had interpreted it that you believed there was a large conspiracy starting with Parsippany teachers to gain a waiver so that they could get their ridiculous high wages. That seems pretty crazy. I notice you have no problem quoting Christie in the Seitz article, but when he disagrees with your position you ignore it. Gov. Christie, even though his party created the NCLBA, realizes that the legislation is deeply flawed and needs to be changed. Even Diane Ravitch, once staunch advocate, claims NCLB is a failure. Here's the funny part: Parsippany students still go to Ivy League and prestigious colleges, Parsippany remains a fixture as a best town to live (I doubt we would make these lists if our education system was a mess), and, on a larger scale, NJ consistently ranks in the top ten in state by state education (of which both Parsippany high schools rank in the top third. G, the facts simply don't back you up and, let me stop you right here, copying and pasting your post over won't magically make your opinion right. Your argument hinges on the NCLBA being a viable piece of legislation, a conclusion which the governor of our state strongly disagrees with.
Donna Brugger February 14, 2013 at 02:40 AM
Congratulations to my sister and all the Parsippany teachers!!!! Donna B.
Alan C February 14, 2013 at 04:48 AM
Teachers, Congrats, so happy you got your contract, you waited too long. However, I am sick and tired of hearing about the complaints against Carifi's attempt to put an end to the out-of-district entitlements. Stop already, I can't afford your reckless generosity. You're all dillusional with the references that it is only 10 students. Par-Troy taxpayers have doled out millions and millions of dollars already (whether it be from stacking or staffers' kids). For the benefactors who have no problem with this careless fiscal policy, pass the collection bucket amongst yourselves--but leave the Par-Troy taxpayers out of it. And to teachers and hard-working union reps, keep this in mind regarding future contracts: Par-Troy residents, taxpayers and parents are not sitting on an endless pile of cash. So to think that we can fund for out-of-district student entitlements (stackers' and staffers' kids) while supporting our own kids and watching their school services dwindle while funding for your future contract/raises that you SO WELL deserve would be foolhardy and shortsighted. The money will run out. As a son of a retired New Jersey teacher of 40 years, I have never heard of a practice of an employer-school district allowing teachers/staffers to have employer district taxpayers pay for their childrens' education. This insane practice is how this BOE ended up in the dire financial straits of today. Past idiotic policy does not justify continued ruinous practice.
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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