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Halloween at the Hills May Be Doomed Due to Contract Dispute

Teachers will 'refrain from volunteering our own personal time beyond the agreed-upon work hours,' according to letter sent to parents.

The Parsippany Hills High School students announced at Thursday's Board of Education meeting that the anticipated Halloween at the Hills community-wide event scheduled for Oct. 30 may not go forward.

Student Council Executive Board member Chase Boyle informed board members Thursday that he and his fellow students were distressed after learning that because of the difficulty recruiting staff members to volunteer as chaperones and organizers, the popular annual community celebration may not go forward as planned.

Now parents may know why.

Patch was sent over the weekend an undated letter from the Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association, the union representing district teachers, that was addressed to parents.

As you may be aware, the [PTHEA] has been without a contract for the past year. As the Board of Education has been unwilling to negotiate our proposals or to work with us to find a path to a compromise, we have decided to refrain from volunteering our own personal time beyond the agreed-upon work hours.

We are saddened to have to take this step and we do not take it lightly, but we cannot in good conscience continue to work "above and beyond" while the Board will not consider our needs.

The letter on PTHEA letterhead, which contains the name of union president Judy Mayer but no signature, goes on to say that extracurricular activities sponsored by appointed advisers will continue, as will events where teacher chaperones have already promised to participate.

The document also tells parents that the teachers' commitment to "quality of education" will continue, despite their dispute with the school board.

"We will still be there, teaching, helping and offering support just as we always have. ... [W]e have very little choice if we are to be taken seriously, while not curtailing our professional integrity and responsibilities."

Because the letter had no signature, Patch contacted Mayer directly to ascertain its authenticity. She confirmed it.

"As the letter states, the actions taken by the PTHEA will in no way impact the quality of education students in Parsippany are receiving," Mayer explained. "Many after-hour extracurricular activities  have run simply because teachers have volunteered their time;  many hours by many teachers.  For years teahers have been doing this, often at the expense of spending time with their own families.  

"The district has taken this practice  for granted. We want them to know how much time and energy, above and beyond, teachers in Parsippany expend  on behalf of our students."

PTHEA members clad in blue T-shirts stood at the BOE meeting Thursday to show their solidarity in contract negotiations. Mayer said the union expects mediation between the parties to take place this month.

Regarding Halloween at the Hills, Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz said that discussions will take place regarding recruiting chaperones in the hope that the event will take place as planned.

No discussion took place regarding any cancellation of Halloween at the High, the Oct. 31 Parsippany High School event scheduled for the northern half of the township.

Analli Citall October 16, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Let's have all the staff on the BOE volunteer their time to make sure these activities still happen. Dr. Seitz and all the administrators can go and take over all these activities until the contract issues have been settled. Come on, "It's for the children"!
Scott Dean October 16, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Analli I agree , Parents today rely on the care our teachers provide to all the kids. Was there a two year delay for Mr.Seitz contract ? Hard nosed deliberating ? or is that the contract that was resolved early without any deliberation. Something stinks here and it is not the bad fruit from the school lunchroom!
Richard October 16, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Mike Man, are you relying on false info. If a Bd of Ed has reason to fire a teacher, they have procedures to do just that - the union has no say. Second, you are mixing apples and oranges. I'm sure there are many teachers who coach youth sports, work with Scouts or volunteer in their religious community, much like you. But your employer does not require you to volunteer to manage the company bowling or softball team, does it? No, you give your free time to coaching youth sport (which I presume is not related to your employer) because you find value in it. But you now want to impose upon teachers to give their time outside the classroom. What if Parsippany is not their hometown? What if they do coach youth sports for their kids or next door neighbor in another town? As for benefits, it is part of their compensation package. If your compensation were diminished, wouldn't you expect it to be made up in some other form? So go ahead, take away benefits but be prepared to increase salary to teachers could replace the benefit independently.
Morgan1 October 16, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Richard, I have said all along that I am for raising pay now. I have no interest in reducing teachers overall pay. I'm saying if you have the best benefits of any profession but you don't feel that you are making enough in your paycheck then negotiate higher pay with fewer deferred benefits. Also, who is forcing them to work the Halloween party?!?!!? Many teachers might want to volunteer their time because they think its fun and a great experience for everyone involved but the union is preventing them from participating. That's what I have a problem with.
steve revette October 16, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I don't mind volunteering my time. Also I've lost pay by volunteering my time because you know how many times I was up at Park Road helping get the field ready for the Brooklawn game because Mr. Neglia and my father let them use the field so they din't have to play at that swamp. You think I billed either the league or Board of Education for my time that I was doing that? No because sometimes you do things because it's the right thing to do. Also I'm a VOLUNTEER umpire for LIttle League which means I don't get paid. Sometimes I work 3 hour games double headers and every single minute of it is volunteering. Also I don't care whether or not the teachers are not volunteering if the superintendent let's the community participate.
Ed Dantes October 16, 2012 at 05:11 PM
That is what they have been doing for the last two years? Have we all missed that headline? It's unfortunate that this situation has come down to this, however where is the outrage that regarding the three BOE members refusing to negotiate the contract for the past year +?
Patrick Merrill October 16, 2012 at 05:40 PM
That's real tough dude. Shame you don't know Judy. Hell of a woman who has helped a hell of a lot of students. They've given respect to the superintendent and have gotten only so much back. Maybe we should just hire volunteers to do all their work? Give their current benefits and salaries to Seitz. He thinks he deserves it.
Patrick Merrill October 16, 2012 at 05:44 PM
God Bless you Steve, but their situations might be different than yours.
steve revette October 16, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Maybe your right Patrick I bet we could hire volunteers to teach the kids. Also the fact that only teachers can volunteer at Halloween at the Hills and thy're using that to try and hold the commuity Hostage is low even for Parsippany teachers. I don't care what teachers want to and don't want to volunteer. I couldn't care less. However I must say. Each story that goes out about something like this proves my point that I've been saying for years about some of these people. (Kids here's your TEACHERS true intentions).
Patrick Merrill October 16, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Oh Steve, that just is not right. I hope you can re-read your post objectively and realize what a joke of an ignorant statement "I bet we could hire volunteers to teach the kids." is. I think it's easy to victimize yourself as a tax-payer when your teachers are paid above the national average. But as a victimized tax-payer remember this - living in Parsippany is not cheap. Teachers live here too. There's a reason our school district scores so high nationally. Great education system here teachers deserve great rewards.
Analli Citall October 16, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I hope you both realize you can't HIRE volunteers. By definition volunteers are doing a job or service for no compensation. I see it all the time, come volunteer for this organization and receive blah blah blah. Once you are receiving anything, you are no longer volunteering, but getting paid. It might not be much and it might not be cash, but you are getting paid.
Patrick Merrill October 16, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Analli, I think the argument Steve put forward to my sarcastic comment was more along the lines of "Teachers aren't professionals and anyone can do it without a degree". I hope Steve is aware there is a reason the state puts forth qualifications for one to teach in public schools. But the teachers do volunteer without compensation. It's funny that people are upset over their refusal to volunteer, and it shows clearly how these extra hours have become viewed as mandated to a point where; not only are teachers not appreciated for the extra time, but put down for not VOLUNTEERING their hours. Think about that for a minute.
steve revette October 16, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Patrick I don't have any kids in the district. And I'm a pretty recent graduate of the Hills and you don't know what really goes on in the school where as I've seen things and more things. You might just be going by the test scores but inside the school itself whole different story. I guarantee if you saw some of the things teachers did and said and how they acted most people's opinions on them would change. The HIB law forgot the biggest bully in the state. The Teacher. Oh I hope I don't get detention for speaking my mind.
Patrick Merrill October 16, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Par High class of '11, and from what I've seen on our side (who gets a lot less money put towards our high school) kids just want to give the teachers a bad reputation. Your right to an extent, the administrators never really wanted to listen to suggestions, they'd half A** a job that we really thought was important, but the teachers themselves never gave me or my friends much trouble unless we gave them reason.
Monica Sclafani October 16, 2012 at 06:45 PM
FYI - Board of Ed members do not receive a salary. It is a volunteer position that they are elected to.
steve revette October 16, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Well I can't really speak about the High but at the Hills their are alot of bad teachers. And yes Patrick is 100 percent right about what I meant. There are alot of teachers who are VERY disrespectful and very unprofessional. I don't want to ruin any good teachers repuation. I had a teacher tell me, after they saw a way a particular teacher had talked to me, that I should never let anybody including an authority figure talk to me and humiliate me the way this teacher did. And this same teacher was the very first person to come to my defense when I got in trouble with the assistant Principal for talking back to that very same teacher. So I have no intentions of trying to ruin good teachers reputations.
M. Menaker October 16, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Do you work or just spend all of your time volunteering and blogging? don't judge 100's of great teachers by a few.
Patrick Merrill October 16, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Menaker, I'm on your side but if you want your opinion taken seriously skip the personal attacks, there's no reason for that.
steve revette October 16, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Patrick it was obviously aimed at me. Also Mrs. Menaker I have no issues with any teacher at Eastlake and loved all my teachers at Eastlake and I remember you and I think you're a very nice lady. I do work it just so happened that today is my day off. I have no issue with good teachers who are nice and respectful I do have an issue with some of the teachers I had in Highschool. Also, your friend Mrs. Gifford who helped mt out so much when I was younger taught me it was okay to be different. When I got to Highschool I had teachers who because I was different and rubbger stamped it in my face. I'm not judging the Eastlake teachers or the Brooklawn teachers at all. I'm judging the Hills Teachers and the Hills Administrators and their superiors who did nothing to stop it. I loved Eastlake and I loved my Eastlake teachers and went back last year to congradulate both Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Scatton on their retirements. If you think I'm the troublemaker who was disrupting class and always getting detention it's not the case. Take care. 2001 Eastlake graduate. Steve Revette.
Jessica October 19, 2012 at 02:23 PM
G, Let's be real. If you were at a job and your pay was based on a contract, you weren't happy with the contract and you felt like you had it in your power to protest the contract in some way that wasn't illegal, wouldn't you? If you say no you're one of two things: a liar or weak.
steve revette October 20, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Oh my god I just recently became aware of that Jessica is a teacher. I am DEEPLY ashamed of myself of who I have been showing complete disrespect towards. To G and other people like me who are Angry,Jessica is one of the best teachers I ever had in all my years of grade school. She is the number 1 reason for why I was able to pass the HSPA. She is an excellent teacher and a very very nice nice lady who would go above and beyond for her students. I would take 6 teachers whom hate me if my 7th could be Jessica 10 times out of 10. To Jessica I am SO SO SORRY for the way I was talking to you and really hope you can forgive me. If every teacher in the District took pride and did the job Jessica did as a teacher Parsippany would be the NUMBER 1 Best place to live. You will not find a finer teacher around. Once again I'm deeply sorry for my comments Jessica you deserve to be treated with a lot more respect for the FINE job that you do.
M. Echevarria October 21, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Are teachers hourly or salaried? I am salaried and the last time I had to work longer than my regular hours it was not considered volunteer it was getting my job done. Sometimes I work 12 hour days and weekends if its busy. It's considered my job not volunteer work.
Par Hills Parent October 21, 2012 at 08:35 PM
As a parent of a student at the Hills, I would like to comment. I am shocked to hear the things some of these teachers say in class, however it is balanced out by the wonderful teachers who go over and above. This is just part of every day life as we see it in the workplace. Students should absorb from teachers who love their jobs, and are great educators and ignore the inappropriate comments from those who do not. Tenure is ridiculous creating job security in place of needed change. In corporate paid benefits,salary increases and bonuses were lost years ago. Working until 7 or 8 pm, weekends, holidays and on vacation has become the norm with NO extra compensation. We are happy to have a job, that has not been sent off shore. The workforce has changed -teachers are no different. They should embrace their job that cannot be outsourced. They influence on a large number of students. Those teachers who truly entered this profession for the love of teaching and education, will rise to the occasion, just as we have in other professions. Don't look back, look forward and continue to embrace your self worth and great influence you can make on many students in such a rewarding position. If this is diffcult to do, then perhaps you need to change professions. Good luck in finding a job.
Concerned teacher October 22, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Approximately 98.6% of teachers at Parsippany Hills hold a Master's degree, or higher. Workers in both the private and public sectors need to be treated with respect. Just because people in the private sector have lost benefits or are taken advantage of is no reason to attack teachers or wish on them the same unfair treatment people experience in the private sector. What type of mentality is that? In other words we would be a better society if we all had miserable working conditions? Unbelievable. Why the envy and anger towards professionals who are experts in their field and who are transferring knowledge and analytical skills to the new generations? Education is NOT a business but a right given to every child in this country. The value of learning is not always tangible BUT it's essential to our society. Teachers have impacted EVERY worker/professional currently in the work force. People have a choice of paying over $20,000 for k-12 private education. Of the 8 to $12,000 that you pay in taxes, only 4 go to public education. All education in invaluable, whether it’s private or public. You choose. Many people do not understand tenure. Having tenure does not mean that teachers are not evaluated. Students evaluate their teachers every day and the administration conducts rigorous observations throughout the year. Teachers must keep current with their subject matter and therefore must attend workshops and courses. Teachers teach because they love teaching.
Concerned teacher October 22, 2012 at 11:23 PM
To misinformed critics - Teachers arrive in school at about 7:15 am. They work until 2:35 (contractual time) but bring their work home every day, so I would say that they work between 14 to 18 hours a day, including another 4 to 6 hours on Saturday and 6 to 8 hours on Sunday. They teach 80 to 100 students a day. Teachers give 10 to 12 assessments per class per marking period in five different 5, sometimes 6 classes.. Teachers spend the school day teaching, photocopying, traveling to multiple classrooms, and attending meetings, leaving very little time for anything else, all of which gets done at home. Teachers spend their evenings writing lesson plans, grading, inputting grades, emailing students and parents, completing progress reports, rewriting curriculum, editing and rewriting exams, updating Moodle pages, and writing letters of recommendation for college. They spend after school hours attending club meetings, doing fundraisers, attending P/T conferences, & giving extra help, because they consider it part of their job and professional responsibility; they do care. They also attend conferences and workshops on Saturdays to complete the state mandated 100 hours of professional development. People who don’t teach are completely oblivious to everything I have just written. I love my job and would not do anything else in this world. However it saddens me to see so much misinformation from people who are successful members of society thanks to public education.
steve revette October 23, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Concerned Teacher I do appreciate all the good things Teachers did for me. I for one do not question whether or not you work enough hours because I wouldn't know as I was never a teacher nor do I plan on becoming a teacher. However I do know that teachers can get away with ALOT of things that other people could not. Also if your a Parsippany Teacher and you believe ALL your co workers are wonderful teachers I respect that, however from my own personal experience I believe otherwise.
VietNam Vet October 27, 2012 at 05:33 AM
This has dumbest thing I've heard of yet from these overpaid teachers, its petty anty crap like this that make the residents unsympethetic to their cause. You punish the kids because you don't have a lousey contract. Its things like this that show the people why they shouldn't be behind the teachers, besides when a couple of years ago when everyone was hurting and out of work, the teachers showed what they were made of and said they didn't care and took their raise anyway, that showed us the kind of greedy people they really are, just like speitz.
VietNam Vet October 27, 2012 at 05:38 AM
I couldn't have said it better M, I use to work on a 15 hour a day schedule and we shut up and did our jobs, next they'll want to be paid for taking lunch as well. They already get a few months vacation each year and still get part time jobs to make even more money, it shows the kind of cloth they are cut from.
VietNam Vet October 27, 2012 at 05:54 AM
Teacher, if you stop and think about it many of us were or are professionals in our own field as well, but if we got our benefits paid in full by you and a few months vacation each year and couldn't be fired and still made up to $ 93,000 a year and paid by you, you would scream bloody murder and say we are overpaid, but we were more in line with salaries today and only got 1 or 2 weeks vacation and had to chip in for our benefits and unlike you we could be fired because we didn't have protection from everything. What we are saying is we don't begrudge anyone from making an honest living, but not at somebody elses pain. The residents are hurting from the loss of jobs and their homes but do you care or feel sorry about that? No You just show how uncaring you are by taking an increase of 4%, when everyone else who still has a job is lucky if they get a 2% raise. These people can't keep it up before they lose their homes, but you could care less about that. It shows what you really are made of.
steve revette October 27, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Teacher what about the other teachers because you and I both know that there are many PARSPPANY teachers who are nothing like that. What about the teachers who see bullying but do nothing about it? What about the teachers that are doing the bullying? What about the teachers who don't even show up for their scheduled class? Also you think Teachers are the only profession that takes their work home? I got calls all during the night from work because of customer complaints and stuff like that. Also I couldn't care less about what kind of degree teachers have doesn't make them a good teacher because I know that there is not 98 percent good Teachers in any school district. I don't have a degree and many of the people I have trained said I taught them so much at my job. To be honest I was thinking about going into Education when I was a freshman in Highschool Because I was so good with kids and loved school. Two years later everything changed and I wanted to drop out of school altogether and everything that happened I didn't even want to go to college never mind become a teacher because of the people you think deserve RESPECT.

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