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Board of Ed, Teachers Agree On New Contract

At a special meeting Thursday, the Board of Education voted to ratify a Memorandum of Agreement between negotiating teams of the board and the Fair Lawn Education Association

Five-hundred and eighty-one days.

That's how long it took from the time the contract between district teachers and the expired on June 30, 2010 until the sides officially agreed on a new contract Thursday night.

Over that 19-month span, Middle East dictators have been toppled, Osama bin Laden has been killed and the Iraq War has officially ended.

The board of education voted unanimously with one abstention Thursday night to ratify and approve a Memorandum of Agreement from Dec. 1 -- the only item on the one-page meeting agenda.

Per the agreement, teachers and other district employees will move from a private health care plan to the State Health Benefits Program in July.

Teachers, who had not received a pay raise since their contract expired in 2010, will get a retroactive pay increase of 2.5 percent for the 2010-2011 school year, a 2.2 percent pay increase for the 2011-2012 school year and a 2.7 percent pay increase for the 2012-2013 school year, board president Michael Rosenberg said.

In return, the board has brokered an arrangement whereby elementary school teachers will provide students an additional 25 minutes of instructional time per week, at the expense of a shorter lunch and prep period.

Throughout the negotiation process, both the board and the union remained mum on the cause of the prolonged discussions. However, where teachers turned out in mass to protest the pace of negotiations revealed that a disagreement over the cost of health care premiums may have been a sticking point.

Just over a month after the union took its public stand, its negotiating team reached a tentative contract agreement with the . 

The process stalled for two months as teachers worked out salary tables, until Jan. 26 when the union ratified the Memorandum of Agreement.

Once it was ratified by the teachers, its final hurdle was Thursday's passage by the board.

With the memorandum ratified, the contract must now be written up and signed for it to officially go into effect.

BrokeinFL February 04, 2012 at 02:43 PM
The board of education failed taxpayers again, these type of raises in an economic enviornment in the same town not replacing municipal employees, (26 I believe I read) along with the concessions and furloughs and layoffs, and this is the best the board of education can do? I don't even believe an arbitrator would have awarded this contract! How long can residents endure this irresponsible behaviour?
Deleted because of harassment February 04, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Love the clueless who attack anyone in a union, but are the first to complain about abuses in their own workplace. Ditto for those that are upset that working people who have hundreds of thousands in educational costs for their jobs in order to do them well get single-digit raises over three years. Heaven forbid we blame the system of colleges that milk the students for their ivory tower lifestyle rather than the result of it on the labor market once the students graduate. Teachers need to be well-educated and constantly learning to keep up with the changes in knowledge in the subjects they teach - yet they are the brunt of political whining for trying to do that and expecting their employment to reflect that. We should be thanking them for working for three years in a district while waiting for it to negotiate with them for the conditions of their workplace. Instead, the complainers are out in full force, blaming unions, and not the Board of Ed, for the delay. These teachers are our neighbors - and attacking them is just another attack on ourselves and our own class. Poor Chris who hasn't had a raise in three years has a much better chance of leaving if he's so unhappy. We are lucky to be able to keep the good teachers when we treat them the same way.
fred February 04, 2012 at 10:50 PM
You are 100% correct!
fred February 04, 2012 at 10:58 PM
The teachers should take a 10% reduction in pay and not an increase. Their benefits far exceed that of private industry. We, the home owners, have to pay more taxes to make the unions happy. Get rid of the unions and let's pay the teachers a salary reflecting this economic time. Retired home owners are moving out of the state because of the high NJ taxes. Our home values have decreased about 25% and yet the taxes are the same. The teachers pay is just one item that must be adjusted down if we are going to survive.
Tommy P February 05, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Who likes government cheese? Who like monopolies? While its true Fair Lawn students do better than most others towns in our state, we pay more than we should and get less than we deserve. The system is broken, the republicrats and union bosses are to blame. Good teachers and bad teachers are paid the same, if that good teacher hasn't been around long enough they make less than a bad or mediocre teacher. Teachers are among the best educated in our community, yet they are treated like a bunch of idiots. They are not allowed to manage their own retirement, instead they are forced into pension system which promises money the state hasn't delivered in decades. We destroy their incentive to shop health insurance by giving it to them "free". Why not give them the money & let them decide what's right their situation? Teachers are forced into unions and have almost a thousand dollars practically stolen from their check & sent to the union. The vast majority of that money is funneled into the democrat party, even though most teachers are not even democrats. Parents are screwed too, they have to move to specific neighborhoods to select a school. No one is competing for their business. The rediculous situation of teachers refusing to complete recommendation letters for students would NEVER have occurred if they feared their student could just goto another school. This contract screws everyone and the tax payer is forced under threat of violence to foot the bill.
Deleted because of harassment February 05, 2012 at 02:15 AM
The bit about teachers not writing recomendation letters was nothing more than an urban myth, and a totally unsubstantiated one at that. Despite pleas for the parents of these students who were denied to come forward, not one, not a single one did, either for the newspapers, the opponents of the teachers, or the many people that asked. Does not keep the anti-union minions from crawling out of the woodwork and repeating the lie, here, once again.
Tommy P February 05, 2012 at 03:21 AM
I wrote quite a bit, its good to see the only thing that bothered you was the recommendation issue. I'm not sure if it happened or not, if it did, I would fully understand why a student wouldn't come forward. He or she would be calling out a teacher who could additionally impact their GPA and even if they could prove it, nothing would happen to the teacher. Even if they switched teachers, the fear of reprisal would be understandable. Throw in younger siblings, and the issues are compounded. Calling it a lie was a bit strong. Instead of name calling and presuming I'm anti-union, lets focus on issues. Your approach only polarizes the education debate. Considering parents outnumber the union at least 20-1 and taxpayers outnumber parents doesn't really help your cause.
Michael Agosta February 05, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Zak Koeske, please don't allude comparisons of selfless service and self-serving. You stretched it a bit by using the Middle East events and teacher contracts in the same article. Chris Antonelli, you bring up a good point. If you do your job well, why would you feel entitled to protection? 'Adolpho' is a funny guy. ENTITLED TO PROTECTION FROM ADVERSE CONDITIONS AND TREATMENT??? Really? Adolpho, I will pay for your transportation to my location. I am surrounded by people who CHOSE freely to be here. There are no unions where I am. And guess what...everybody performs to their maximum ability and gets paid about 1/3 of what a teacher in Fair Lawn makes. When there is running water, cold showers are available. Meal cycle: UGR, MRE, UGR. Sleeping in tents; up to 20 people in a 20' x 32' area. Small arms and rocket attacks. IEDs EVERY day. 18-hour work days. So, what adverse conditions do Fair Lawn teachers potentially face? I am not anti-union. I am anti-union in-my-pocket.
Michael Agosta February 05, 2012 at 07:53 AM
Grandstand? I simply expained factual, first-hand accounts of reality. You, on the other hand, are spewing rhetoric. If reality is grandstanding to you, please put your head back in the sand. Unions are not the answer to all workplace problems. Workers are only "entitled" to their earnings. Period. If there is all sorts of abuse in a workplace that has legallly documented workers, that place of business would fold becasue the business would not be able to retain workers. The same holds true for teachers, police, firefighters and any other union.
Michael Agosta February 05, 2012 at 03:04 PM
I'm not pushing anyone's theories. I stated my own opinion which is obviously different than yours. With that, you went on attack mode. Apples and oranges? Work is work no matter how you slice it (no pun intended). Why are teachers entitled to special privileges? Why do teachers need to be protected more than a soldier or an investment broker or anyone else trying to make an honest living? By the way, I am proud of what I have done and what I continue to do for my country. You call it grandstanding. See, you wouldn't understand unless you actually served.
Deleted because of harassment February 05, 2012 at 05:47 PM
There certainly are a lot of people fond of anti-union rhetoric with no idea of how or why teachers came to be one of the first groups to form unions. Historical research shows that teachers were at the mercy of politics and politicians for their employment up through the early 20th century. Teaching jobs were plums handed out by the party in power, who controled not only the jobs but any hint of opinion or independant thought by those that held them. Remember the Scopes Trial? A teacher on trial for what he taught when he expressed an opinion that took on a political side rather than the facts was only unusual in that most of the teachers expressing those beliefs would have never had a chance to have even a day in court. Unions gave teachers job stability and protection from changes in political sides that in the days before unions controled every aspect of their employment, including what they were permitted to teach - rather than allowing knowledge to control education. These are the same battles still being fought in other states, where politicians can require things like creationism being given equal importance to scientific fact in the classroom, and force teachers to limit the course of study in the classroom to fit in only politically correct and controlled studies. Unions mean you can't fire a teacher because you don't like their personal politics - at least know why they came to be in the first place.
Tommy P February 05, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Here is a common sense idea, take the power away from the political leaders and union bosses and give it to the parents. Who has a greater vested interest in seeing their children succeed? Give every parent a voucher based on their child(ren)'s grade level. Auction off leases to the borough's school buildings and let the private sector answer the union question. It address the complaints of parents, since they are now in control of the money. If parents are willing to pay a little extra for certain services, great, if there is money left over, let the parents share a portion with the tax payers. They don't like a school, move the kid to a different school instead of moving their home. This also solves a number of complaints I hear from many teachers about their pay amount being public information, lack of health insurance choices, pay issues, the ability to control their own retirement money, contract issues, etc. The only people who stand to suffer are the union bosses, and the political party they are in bed with. Interesting fact almost 16% of Fair Lawn kids already opt out of public school. That says a lot.
BellairBerdan February 05, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Thomas, what you are proposing is to take away whatever voice I have as a property owner with what happens to the money I pay in taxes by taking away my vote. You would take the power of what happens to my money out of the hands of officials I can elect and into the hands of parents, many of whom could be renters and pay no school and property taxes. Your common sense idea makes no sense really if your view is that people should control their own money. Seems to me if 16% of the children already opt out to be in schools of their choice (which they pay for with their own money, not mine) and we have better public schools than most towns the system is working.
Tommy P February 05, 2012 at 10:52 PM
@BellairBerdan: Property owners have _NO_ say what-so-ever. Only residents do, to the extent owners live on their property, they have a say. That said, owners have a proportional say to those who rent, and yes, renters pay property taxes, albeit indirectly. The system is rigged. School board elections are not in November, as a result, resident teachers and parents are the most likely to know when and vote. In many districts teachers send home notices informing parents. Now they can even raise the tax up to 2% without a vote. The budget is $83,673,140 with 3,895 students, or $21k+ per pupil. Three of the 16% were recently feature in the Patch, Tommy, Tyler and Mike attend Don Bosco, the tuition there is $14k. Wouldn't it be nice to get back most of that $7k+ by sending more students there to save tax payer money? Keep in mind that budget doesn't include quite a bit, like the pay of the police officers who lead the D.A.R.E. programs, DPW's maintenance of the grounds, and the property taxes the borough doesn't collect on that land. Have any idea of how much of our money goes to Newark and the other 30 Abbott districts? Local government controlled monopolies are the problem, state courts make it worse. Any thing we do to strip them of power makes it better for all us. Well except maybe those unduly enriching themselves in the scam.
Tommy P February 05, 2012 at 10:58 PM
@Bruce, communists believe in state owned and operated schools, clearly I do not. If you had to come up with a name that represented the exact opposite of communism, my name would be near the top of the list.
Michael Agosta February 06, 2012 at 01:57 AM
It must be very lonely knowing everything.
Deleted because of harassment February 06, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Makes no sense whatsoever. And would strip away any aspect of accountability held by the taxpayers and give it to the private corporations - those same wonderful people stealing money for charter schools that are really religious schools - and further diminish any incentive to encourage good teachers to remain. You don't have children in local schools, and it shows.
Deleted because of harassment February 06, 2012 at 02:13 AM
That's an insult to communists.
BellairBerdan February 06, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Thomas Paine, have you ever heard the phrase "taxation without representation"? That is what you are advocating when you want to take away the decision of how my tax money is spent from an elected representative and give it to the parents. But then in your next statement you complain that the school board elections are held when only parents will know to vote. Which way do you want it? I know I get a notice in the mail for every election. If it means that much to me to go vote I do. All you want to do is politicize and destroy the public educational system. You want to remove the power of our vote. We elect people to represent us in these matters and you want to take that away from us. BTW, if you want to send all the children of Fair Lawn to a Catholic school to save money, you're going to have a problem.
Deleted because of harassment February 06, 2012 at 02:15 AM
It's never lonely when you know everything - you have your own ego to keep you company in your vast well of intellect.
Tommy P February 06, 2012 at 03:03 AM
DPW does perform services for the school district. Cops do run the D.A.R.E. programs. The borough's IT department serves the same function for the schools. Should I continue to highlight off budget expenditures? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to find these things. There are many, its part of the game in most NJ towns. Adolpho, instead of discussing the merits, you apparently are more interested in name calling. You challenged me for not having facts, reread what I wrote. I simply pointed out the BOE doesn't pay for these things, but guess what, me and my neighbors do. I am not an anarchist, I have no interest in starting a revolution. Fair Lawn spends over $330,000 per classroom each year. I'm just tired of being ripped off, as are most people in Fair Lawn.
Tommy P February 06, 2012 at 03:27 AM
We already have taxation without representation. Fair Lawn property owners who happen to live in other towns, don't get a vote in this town, but that property tax bill shows up every 3 months, with the school bill included. The reason the system is politicized is because its precisely because a government monopoly exists. The less involved government is, the less political it will become. Look at how political ShopRite isn't! CVS isn't political either. Need more examples? Competition is a good thing. The main reason most private schools are religious is because the government schools have a $21,000/per pupil advantage in the case of Fair Lawn. Its impossible to compete on a level playing field when you start that far behind. If you removed that advantage and made government schools compete for that $21k, the landscape would be very different. Religious school exist for non-monetary reasons. I have never said we should strip away accountability. Schools (like teacher already are) should be licensed. Part of the license should include testing and accountability. Ever wonder how poorly the 16% who opt out do? The answer may surprise you.
Tommy P February 06, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Its not in the BOE Budget, its in the municipal budget. The DPW picks up recycling and garbage, there are two examples, there are others. There is a police car parked on a daily basis at FLHS, are they just borrowing a parking space? And you are wrong on the IT department too, its a shared service. Read the minutes of the Shared Services Committee. You'd be amazed what you can find on the borough's website. Interestingly enough, when I follow this link http://www.google.com/search?q=Adolpho+Mostaccioli I find you post in dozens of patches in multiple states. Do you even live in Fair Lawn? Or in Bergen County? Heck do you even live in NJ?
BellairBerdan February 06, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Thomas, the services provided by the town are for the townspeople. Whether you want to admit it or not, the children are citizens of this town. In addition, they are on public property. Do you not think they deserve protection from the police as any other group of citizens?
BellairBerdan February 06, 2012 at 04:18 AM
So Thomas, let me get this right. You are only advocating taking away the votes of people from Fair Lawn? If the government has a monopoly on schools how do you explain that 16% going to private schools you have been talking about? That's not a very good monopoly is it? In addition there is a higher standard of testing to reach for teachers in the public school system. Even you can't possibly say that every private school surpasses public schools in their education of students. Are you really trying to make us believe that businesses aren't politically motivated? (According to Follow The Money CVS has made over $1.5 million dollars in company or PAC contributions)
Tommy P February 06, 2012 at 05:24 AM
http://www.fairlawnpd.com/community_policing/dare/dare.htm
Tommy P February 06, 2012 at 05:35 AM
Just because the town doesn't pay to dispose of the material, doesn't mean it makes money. The cost of picking up the material in terms of labor, vechile maintenance, fuel, insurance, etc exceed the money made from selling it. That police car is under a 10 year bond, so we are still paying for it. Reread what I wrote, I never advocated cutting a dime in spending, only sharing in the savings parents OPTED for. And pushing "out of district students" out has ZERO impact on the size of the budget.
tacitus February 06, 2012 at 03:30 PM
@Thomas Paine: the link shows those officers who were assigned to teach or were trained to teach the DARE program; what's your point with it?
tacitus February 06, 2012 at 03:36 PM
@Thomas Paine: you need to get your facts straightened out there; the police car out in front of the high school is used by the school resource officer and is one of the older vehicles the police department has in its inventory. The DARE program has not been taught in almost two years so why are you still beating that dead horse and what affect does Borough provided services have to do with the school budget? Lastly you assume that everyone but yourself is an educated fool who has no clue as to what or where there tax dollars go, perhaps you should research the facts before slinging the mud of deceit.
Tommy P February 07, 2012 at 12:34 AM
I don't assume everyone is a fool, nor do I appreciate people outright calling me one. All I did was ask a simple question, and the fun started. Clearly some people don't see the world the same way I do and I understand fully there are different perspectives on proper governance. Debating political issues shouldn't start and end with name calling. Unless of course you know that your position is lacking, then you isolate the messenger, attack and hope no one notices what your up to. There's a lot wrong with our school systems, but there is a lot of good too. Like most people I would like to see them improved. Many of the problems highlighted are a direct result of the virtual government monopoly. Not just the problems the parents face, but the teachers as well. The free market would solve many of the issues brought up. I was under the false impression when the former Paterson officers were hired, that DARE was restored. My point with DARE, the "resource officer", DPW, etc, is that $83m is not the complete cost to tax payers, even if it were, its still over $21k per student and over $330k per classroom. That's a LOT of money. The private sector does it for less while turning out better results, that said, I do understand the impact of selection. I don't know where every dollar of our taxes go, but I probably have more of an idea than the average resident. @Tacitus, According to the clerk, the police car parked in front of FLHS today is still bonded.

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