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Board President: We're Frustrated By Union Offers

The board of education and teachers union are preparing to go into fact finding.

As the board of education and prepare to go into fact finding for contract negotiations, board president Evan Lerner said he is frustrated that the union keeps increasing its requests while the district is trying to meet somewhere in the middle.

"Last year, the union offered 0, 3.6 and 3.6, and offered to move to the state health plan," he said. "Then they declared impasse and moved to mediation."

"Now they are asking for 2.5, 2.5 and 2.5 with the state health plan," he added. "In 10 months, we have gone from impasse to mediation to asking for more."

Click here to read a response from the B-REA.

Lerner announced at the March 27 board of education meeting that the negotiations had not been completed in three mediation sessions, so the mediator has suggested they move on to .

Throughout the process, and in its most recent offer, the board, Lerner said, is offering 1 percent, 2 percent and 2 percent, and a tutorial period instead of the previously requested sixth period of teaching for high school teachers. This is double the board's last offer, he said.

"I feel we're moving toward the middle, and they're asking for more than they did before," he said. "I feel we will settle, but it's hard to settle when you're moving toward the middle and the other is asking for more."

The fact finding process, Lerner said, takes about three months to complete, but it hasn't yet started for the district. Once a judge makes the decision, it remains non-binding, which means the sides don't have to agree.

"But one might argue that because it is nonbinding, it keeps people away from the table," he said.

Still, Lerner said, the main frustration is that the board of education has more than doubled in its financial offerings, and has switched to asking for a tutorial period instead of a sixth one for the teachers—but the union has not been as understanding.

"And they've asked for more money with five periods," he said.

In addition, Lerner said, he has been concerned by the constant comparisons of the school board to a corporation with profit.

"We don't make a profit, we take money in the form of taxes," he said. "[Union president Steve Beatty] has said we've made money, but we're putting roofs on buildings that haven't had them fixed."

And at this point, Lerner said, if the union does not move toward the middle in terms of what it is requesting, he believes the district will head into September without a contract for the teachers.

"We don't even want to go to May without a contract," he said. "But unless the union moves to the middle, we will go to September without one."

"Going to the middle is typical of negotiations," he added. "We believe the teachers want a contract, but it is by going to the middle that you get to one."

Lerner said the school board has not had this kind of problem with teacher contract negotiations in about 12 to 15 years.

"The most recent two contracts discussed what was standard around town, and they did things nice and easy," he said. "They avoided other issues."

"But it's a different world now," he added.

Toni April 03, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Let the teacher bashing begin.
BW MOM April 03, 2012 at 01:35 PM
"...the board of education has more than doubled in its financial offerings, and has switched to asking for a tutorial period instead of a sixth one for the teachers—but the union has not been as understanding." Really? this is how you want to spin it? It sounds like you're forgetting the board's 120-item list of concessions that it wanted the BREA to accept in exchange for no net increase. To say that you've "doubled your offer" is meaningless...the first offers were net pay cuts (given the additional amounts that teachers have to pay for benefits), so don't think for a second that these were "generous" proposals. Mr. Lerner, do you agree that with your offer, your teachers will take home less money in 2013 than they did in 2010? Mr Lerner, you'll get exactly what you pay for. If you want teachers who do the bare minimum, go ahead and save the $50 per family. I'm sure everyone will be very impressed and will thank you for the two pizzas they can buy, but you'll see the results really quickly in education quality. If you want teachers who don't think twice about going above and beyond their job duties, who are passionate about helping your kids, and whose efforts improve the quality of the school and your property values as a result, then consider what's best -- giving your community's teachers a pay cut (as the board would like), or not. B-R, It's your choice, and either way you should be vocal in your support or disagreement of the board's positions.
Concerned Citizen April 03, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Funny how Mr. Lerner had no problem giving raises this year to the superintendent and other administrators who were already earning 6 figure salaries and who spend 0 time in contact with students. In fact he settled early with those folks in order to avoid the state mandated cap on salaries so he could pay our superintendent $52K MORE than state law allows. Where was his outrage when those folks got their share of the $10 miilion surplus the BOE is sitting on? Thanks to this board's attitude, I fear for the future education of our children. Teachers can only be treated like second class citizens for so long before it crushes morale and impacts the overall atmosphere in our schools. Thanks for nothing Mr. Lerner.
Mark Gillman April 03, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I'm really interested in the comment about saving 50 dollars per family. It made me think, what kind of dollar figure are we talking about? If the BOE's offer was imposed, how much would it save the taxpayer compared to outright accepting the BREA's offer? Mr Lerner, can you answer that? The cost of this morale-lowering stance you are taking should come with a benefit, right? Just how much money will you be saving the average taxpayer by denying the BREA's offer?
Metoo April 03, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Nice that they can give the super a raise that has him earning $203,000 which is $30,000 over the cap. And they gave the assistant super and BA raises which also puts them over the cap. Money for some, not for all...
Mark Gillman April 03, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Going to the middle is typical in negotiations where both sides present reasonable offers. If you have a 400K house and I offer you 100K for it, do you think it's reasonable to meet in the middle? Is that how you'd negotiate something you feel is totally unfair? Neither do the teachers in this town. You complain about Steve Beaty's characterization of the issue, and then you come back with something like "meet in the middle is the way to negotiate.". If that's your approach then it scares me to death to think about the other decisions you make as board president. Shame on you for the way you've twisted this community issue to satisfy your ego. Are you and mr brooker trying to win some kind of game here? Do you not have a more constructive way to express yourself? SETTLE NOW and do what's right for this town. Is this the way to improve education in this community?
BridgewaterParnt April 03, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I love most of our teachers, there are quite a few that need to be fired. In these tough financial times everyone including adminstrators and teachers need to be happy just to have a job with amazing benefits. I looked up some teacher salaries and found an 18 year teacher making $85,000 a year (not including the health benefits which would probably add another $15,000). So with 180 school days that means this person makes $472 a day with an 8 hour day they are making $59.75 an hour. That is pretty damn good for someone who has 2 months vacation, far too many sick days and a tenured job which makes them nearly impossible to fire.
BridgewaterParnt April 03, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I love most of our teachers, there are quite a few that need to be fired. In these tough financial times everyone including adminstrators and teachers need to be happy just to have a job with amazing benefits. I looked up some teacher salaries and found an 18 year teacher making $85,000 a year (not including the health benefits which would probably add another $15,000). So with 180 school days that means this person makes $472 a day with an 8 hour day they are making $59.75 an hour. That is pretty damn good for someone who has 2 months vacation, far too many sick days and a tenured job which makes them nearly impossible to fire.
BridgewaterParnt April 03, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I love most of our teachers, there are quite a few that need to be fired. In these tough financial times everyone including adminstrators and teachers need to be happy just to have a job with amazing benefits. I looked up some teacher salaries and found an 18 year teacher making $85,000 a year (not including the health benefits which would probably add another $15,000). So with 180 school days that means this person makes $472 a day with an 8 hour day they are making $59.75 an hour. That is pretty damn good for someone who has 2 months vacation, far too many sick days and a tenured job which makes them nearly impossible to fire.
BridgewaterParnt April 03, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I love most of our teachers, there are quite a few that need to be fired. In these tough financial times everyone including adminstrators and teachers need to be happy just to have a job with amazing benefits. I looked up some teacher salaries and found an 18 year teacher making $85,000 a year (not including the health benefits which would probably add another $15,000). So with 180 school days that means this person makes $472 a day with an 8 hour day they are making $59.75 an hour. That is pretty damn good for someone who has 2 months vacation, far too many sick days and a tenured job which makes them nearly impossible to fire.
Hammerin1 April 03, 2012 at 06:33 PM
BridgewaterParnt, you need to keep one thing in mind when you think an 18 year teacher makes $85,000. The teachers do not move on the salary guide each year. It depends on negotiations. What I am hearing in most towns, and I assume ours is no different, teachers will not move a step. The steps are not equivalent to years of service. There are many schools that have a short guide, like 12 steps, and some that have a longer guide, but it is not indicative of the number of years in education or number of years of service. I would also argue that most teachers, not all, spend a lot of time outside of the school year preparing for class. Many teachers come in during the summer to get things ready or they are participating in workshops and college classes to increase their knowledge. I do agree that some teachers are bad and need to go, but you have to blame the administration who should be pursuing tenure charges on these individuals, but do not make it sound like there are so many bad teachers at Bridgewater because that is not true. What we need is for Mr. Lerner to be honest with us. He is lying and I know that Franklin Township schools, in the same county, received 7.2% over three years. It appears the Union is closer to reality than the Board. We voted you in Mr. Lerner; now fix it or get out.
teachB-R April 03, 2012 at 08:32 PM
BridgewaterParnt.... Learn how a Salary Guide works... 18yrs experience is the top of the Bridgewater Salary Guide and those teacher will not see an increase in salary with the the 2.85% increase that the Union is asking for. Yet these veteran teachers will continue to pay into their health benefits taking home much less than that $85k shows. This guide is available on the district website: http://www.brrsd.k12.nj.us/files/filesystem/BREA%202010%202011.pdf It's funny to think that you would say $59.75 is too much per hour to pay a very experienced educator, yet most Bridgewater-Raritan residents won't think twice to spend $75+ for tutoring. PS. Bridgewater-Raritan has recently terminated a tenured teacher that was not performing. Tenure is not life protection for ill performing educators.
Concerned Citizen April 03, 2012 at 10:40 PM
It's not about money, it's about respect. BridgewaterParent wants our teachers, most of whom have master's degrees and other additional education, to earn less so that taxpayers can do what, save enough to pay for a couple of extra mani-pedis a year? Teachers are taxpayers too by the way. And anyone who thinks a teacher's day ends after 8 hours, or that teachers don't spend time setting up their classrooms and their lesson plans in the summer, is completely out of touch. We can pay lawyers $160 an hour to fight settling a contract, but the people who teach our kids how to read and write don't deserve one-third of that amount? Skewed priorities - like those of this parent and the school board - are going to erode and ultimately destroy the B-R schools, no doubt about it.
Jason Schiff April 03, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Completely agree with you, Concerned! Excellent point about lawyers. The fact is that teachers make nowhere near what a typical professional in the private sector with a Master's Degree makes...even when you throw in the 'two months off.' In fact, most teachers have second jobs in the summer. There is never any mention of the fact that teachers have a very difficult and fragile job and must be trained to deal with everything from bullying to violence (fights at school); from bomb threats (remember a few years ago) to what to do when a kid is being abused or neglected. Plus they have to be able to effectively babysit as many as 20 kids in the same classroom. Babysitters get paid more, in fact. And, after everything, if the teacher finds the time, maybe they can get to the content they were hired to actually teach.
Jason Schiff April 03, 2012 at 11:11 PM
This news is not that funny or ironic or shocking when you come to the realization that 'Mr. Lerner' is corrupt. What else would you call having a position of power and using it to influence public policy while at the same time taking money from taxpayers to give to your friends (Mr. Schilder)?
JT April 03, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Mr. Lerner, you've commented on other articles recently. Are you purposely ignoring the questions that readers have asked of you?
Toni April 04, 2012 at 03:07 AM
I'd like to know why Mr. Lerner doesn't address the fact that the board renegotiated the superintendent's contract a YEAR ahead of time (with a nice raise), just to circumvent the Governor's cap on superintendent's salaries. A year ahead of time. Really???
B--R parent April 04, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Mr. Lerner, where are you?
Jason Schiff April 05, 2012 at 12:22 AM
He's chosen to ignore these comments. Reading them, I'm sure. Just choosing not to engage. Cowards typically do that. His silence speaks volumes.
Txpayer April 06, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Evan Lerner, where are you?
Life long Resident April 10, 2012 at 02:07 AM
This board is a joke and an embarrassment to Bridgewater!! I have lived here all my life and put my 4 children through this district and never have seen a bigger group of idiots! You as a board, super and administration have depreciated the education of this district as well as lost respect of this community.
Life long Resident April 10, 2012 at 02:10 AM
you go teach-B-R
Life long Resident April 10, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Me too!!
A BR Parent April 10, 2012 at 02:48 AM
The Board is playing hardball and that is exactly what they should be doing. Steve from BREA keeps mentioning that all that they are asking for is a raise from some of 'our own money' that the BOE is saving because of the health care contributions. Steve .. that is not your money. That is the tax payers' money and the boe has an obligation to ensure that the tax payers are getting the best bang for their buck. As far as the 1.6 million that the union gave up 'voluntarily' 2 years ago goes, it looks like Steve has a very short memory. I remember attending the boe sessions and hearing how the union was being most uncooperative. You had to give up the money after the budget was defeated, the state aid was drastically cut and you basically had no other choice. I would have supported you but for what I witnessed two years ago.
Mike April 11, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Or $95/hr for golf or tennis lessons.
Concerned Citizen April 21, 2012 at 03:06 AM
The board of ed won't tell you this. Employees will be paying back $3-5 MILLION in health care contributions, and the board has proposed raises totalling around $1.4 million. Will the extra $1.6-3.6 million be returned to taxpayers? No. The board of ed will spend it. On what? We have no way of knowing because the board voted to move the school board election to November, so the public does not get to vote on the budget. So even if they get raises, teachers will be taking home LESS take home pay next year. Anyone out there care to ask Mr. Lerner to explain?
Teacher May 03, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Here a message for "Bridgewater Parent" Do you have any idea what the BOE policies are going to do to your home value? The only thing supporting RE values is the Quality of the Schools. This BOE has taken direct aim at your Net Worth. Your 85K teacher has a BA and Masters degree and 18 years experience. So ask yourself, Just Whom DO YOU want teaching your Child? PS: You are truly an IDIOT if you think that teachers only work when they are in the classroom.
Teacher May 03, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Evan Lerner is a BULLY He could give a RATS ARSE about your kids education. He is the consumate PUFTER
Teacher May 03, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Worried about your RE taxes Move to Trenton or South Phily Send your kids to their "BLUE RIBBON' Schools Then BE HAPPY
Teacher May 03, 2012 at 03:16 PM
The BOE is Corrupt Lerner is using his BULLYING Tactics to Bolster his Political Position and His Law Practice YOU ARE NUTS if you think he cares about Education

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