It’s official—the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association (B-REA) and the board of education have a new contract.
The new agreement will extend through June 2015, and provides for salary increases of 8.7 percent over four years.
Board president Evan Lerner announced at Monday’s meeting that the B-REA had ratified two new collective bargaining agreements, formally adopting the tentative agreement reached by the two parties in August. The B-REA had been without a contract since the last one expired in June 2011.
Lerner explained that there are actually two separate agreements in order to extend the contract over a four-year period, from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2015.
While salary increases over the four-year period will total 8.7 percent, there will be an average annual salary increase of 2.175 percent. There will be a 0 percent increase in the first year (July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012), and a 2.9 percent increase over each of the three years beginning July 1, 2012.
Following the board’s approval of the agreements, Steve Beatty, president of the nearly 2,000-member teachers association, thanked the board and indicated the agreements will “help the district move forward."
"Our members are happy they can move forward with the business that they do best,” he said.
Beatty said after the meeting that they are happy to move forward.
“We’re very pleased and relieved that this is all settled,” he said. “People understand. The membership is now a little more unified and on the same page.”
Lerner added that he, too, was “pleased to move forward,” noting that new laws, government pressure and a poor economy all change the landscape and make it harder to accomplish such agreements.
“This district has a pretty good history and good relationships between the board and teachers,” he said.
Other key elements of the agreements are:
- The B-REA will transition to the School Employees Health Benefits Program (SEHBP) retroactive to July 1, 2012. Unfair Labor Practice Charges filed by the B-REA will be withdrawn and the board will establish a fund to reimburse any employees who prove a loss of coverage as a result of the change.
- Stipends, substitute rates and all other compensation terms will be frozen for three years, remaining at their 2010-2011 rates through 2013-2014, when they will then increase by 1.5 percent.
- The tuition reimbursement cap will also be frozen at the 2010-2011 level through June 30, 2015.
- High school teachers will work a full day on half days that are designated for testing at the school.
- The superintendent and administration will also incorporate a tutorial period into high school teachers’ schedules as soon as they “deem it practical.”
- If any alternative schedule is to be considered in the future, a high school scheduling committee made up of teachers and administrative representatives will be created to develop recommendations.
In an official statement, Lerner said, “The board and the administration look forward to working closely with the BREA and its membership to ensure that the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District maintains its position as a leading school district in the state and the nation while continuing to strive for ways to better its performance wherever and whenever possible.”