A group of Parsippany teachers—frustrated over working for two years without a contract—took a stand at Thursday night's Board of Education meeting.
As Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association President Judy Mayer spoke to the school board during the meeting's public comment section, about 30 union members, all wearing blue PTHEA T-shirts, rose to their feet.
"We are here tonight to show our dedication and our love for our jobs," she said. "We come every day and give it our all. Because of the work of teachers and the administration of this district, these children have accomplished much.
"We take pride in our jobs ... and [we've done] it without a contract, for two years."
Parsippany Hills High School history teacher Sam Varsano followed Mayer to the microphone.
Speaking for no one but himself, he said, Varsano asserted that teachers work very hard to give students a quality education. He said he is confused as to why teachers are in year three of negotiations with no pact struck with the administration.
"I hear about the accomplishments of our high schools ... and our students, but even that's not enough to give us the dignity of a contract," Varsano said, adding that teachers are often demonized by the public. "I hear what people say. I sounds like they're saying we're overpaid, selfish and lazy. I've run two different businesses, I've met a payroll each week. I've never worked as hard as I've had to work to be a successful teacher. I don't know where the idea comes from that this group is not deserving.
"My conclusion is that the feelings I get [from the board] is a lack of initiative for us to get an appropriate and fair settlement [include] disappointment, discouragement and the beginning of a feeling of disrespect."
Despite the difficulties, Mayer said teachers still turn up each day and guide students toward excellence.
"Teachers do what they need to do," she said. "They are a devoted group of teachers."
The union president said teachers are a huge reason for recent district achievements including rising student standardized test scores, the growing number of students earning the "advanced proficient" designation and the inclusion of both district high schools among NJ Monthly's ranking of the state's top 100 high schools.
"The results speak for themselves," she said.
The end to the contract stalemate could be forthcoming, Mayer said.
"We have mediation sessions scheduled for this month," she said. "Hopefully we will come to an agreement."