Senator, I don't know if you've been paying attention, but spending money so districts can "think outside the box" isn't really a priority when the state can't even give its teachers modest raises [all emphases mine]:State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) has filed a bill to be heard on Thursday that would create an Innovation Fund and appropriate $5 million in its first year to help schools trying new programs in scheduling, technology and other areas. [emphasis mine]The proposal is a mirror image of the fund that Gov. Chris Christie included in his fiscal 2014 state budget, but which was cut out of the final spending plan by the Democrat-controlled Legislature.Ruiz signed off on that cut as a member of the state Senate budget committee. She explained yesterday that she felt it was not ready for approval at that time.“But I was very clear that it was something we need to revisit,” Ruiz said in an interview. “It was a great concept, but people had questions.”Now, she said, such a fund – with guidelines -- could help school districts fund certain programs that would not otherwise get funded. She has especially advocated extended school-day programs.“For me, it’s a great way for districts to think outside the box,” Ruiz said.
The rhetoric between those negotiating a contract for teachers and those negotiating for the school board is getting hotter as the city prepares to go into a new municipal election in May. The teachers are currently in their fourth year without a contract, and both sides are waiting for the outcome of a state fact finder, although all agree the findings won’t be binding.And in Egg Harbor:
Teachers marched around City Hall on Oct. 18 to send a message to Mayor Mark Smith that they are unhappy with the Board of Education and the lack of movement on the contract.
Alan D’Angelo, president of the Bayonne Teachers’ Association, is negotiating on behalf of 750 teachers and 50 secretaries in the Bayonne school district,
D’Angelo said the district offered a zero-percent increase the first year, and a freeze the second year for teachers at the top of the salary guide. At the same time, he said, the school district awarded a two-percent increase to some of the top-earning administrators, which has teachers crying foul.
At the scheduled 8 p.m. start time for the Egg Harbor Township Board of Education meeting at the Alder Avenue Middle School on Tuesday, Nov. 12, board members emerged from their earlier closed session to see a board room filled with a crowd that far exceeded the room’s capacity. The majority in the crowd were there to protest the lack of progress on contract negotiations since the most recent contract expired in June.Leonia:
A state-appointed mediator will try to resolve a four-month contract dispute between the Leonia Board of Education and the district’s 230 teachers, secretaries and classroom assistants.
Both sides spent more than four hours in mediation Tuesday night, after the Leonia Education Association held a rally at the high school as a show of strength and to boost the spirits of its members.
“Teachers throughout the district feel demoralized,” union President John Sassi said. “We’re not sure if the board knows we’re united.”
The association and school board will meet again with the mediator on Dec. 5.
The district’s “notoriously low” pay scale is a key issue in the dispute, Sassi said. He said the average pay for Leonia teachers is about $10,000 less than the average teacher’s salary in Bergen County, which is in the mid-$60,000 range.Woodland Park:
Pat Posthumus, president of the WPEA, told board members of her disappointment that the education association was entering its second year without a contract. Posthumus is also a pre-school disabilities teacher at Charles Olbon School.
"Negotiations are stalled due to the unwillingness of this board to accept a fair and equitable solution outlined in a non-partisan fact finders report," she said. "This contract could have been settled with the amount of money you have spent in fighting this. Over the summer, we have lost many fine talented educators and an administrator. They have sought employment in other districts. They have moved on not only to districts where the contracts are more equitable, but to where they feel they are being treated with dignity and respect. How can you say that you put children first, when you put your teachers, aides, secretaries and custodians last?"
Richard Loccke, field representative for the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), said the board has intentionally misled the public. He referred to the board's letter to the editor, calling it "a false, malicious opinion letter."
And, of course, Paterson:"With regard to face to face negotiations, this board team refused to drop proposals and after two years still has eight pages of proposals. This board is obstinate and wants benefits reduced, people to work longer, staff to earn less and all for outrageously low proposal of 2 percent. The WPEA has moved the process along consistent with state law while getting highly experienced state appointed neutrals to assist us."
What's that, trolls? You don't believe it things are really that bad in Paterson?
Food preparation room, Elementary School No. 20, Paterson.
Mouse droppings in an in-use classroom, Elementary School No. 20, Paterson.
So let's get this straight:
- There are many New Jersey schools in deplorable condition.
- There are many teachers in New Jersey working without a new contract and no raises, even as they pay more for pensions and health care.
And yet Senator Teresa Ruiz wants to create a $5 million slush fund for education "innovation"!? Why? So Commissioner Chris Cerf can throw more money at his friends and cronies?
I have a crazy idea: why don't we use the money instead to fix schools and settle contracts so teachers can have modest raises?
I know - crazy talk...