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Tell Us Your Thoughts on B-REA Negotiations

Discussions are continuing in our story about Tuesday's board of ed meeting.

Some are concerned that raising salaries will increase taxes; others feel the teachers are not receiving their due.

But whatever way you feel about the current fight between the board of education and the , the one thing that is clear is that everyone has an opinion.

And after hundreds of teachers showed up at Tuesday's board of education meeting to discuss the hours they put in to do whatever they can for the students, the vote became split between understanding the plight of the school staff and still feeling they are already getting enough.

In fact, in our informal poll, with 396 votes cast as of 11 p.m. Thursday, 136 people [34 percent] are more sympathetic to the teachers, and 260 [65 percent] still feel the same about the negotiations.

Comments from readers about the issue of the negotiations have continued to fill our story about Tuesday's meeting, with some believing that the teachers have to understand taxpayers cannot afford to pay any more money toward salaries, and others believing there is already plenty in the budget to make it work.

"The only additional thing I'd like to add to this conversation is that people always talk about how well-paid teachers are, and how 'rich' our benefits are, yet, when asked if they would rather switch jobs with me they always balk," said reader "NJ Teacher." "The only reason I can imagine this occurs is because deep down they know that teachers aren't overpaid, and that their 'rich' benefits are part of their remuneration."

"I believe that teachers and administration need to take a long and hard look at things," added reader "Mr. Had Enough." "If the teachers can't get a raise, administrators should not either. Your benefits are better than the private sector hands down, even at 10 percent cost base. I haven't seen a raise in years and bonus ... they were the first thing to get cut during the economic downturn and amazingly not restored four years later."

And for some, they are sad to see the changes in the relationship between the board of education and the B-REA.

"It took me a few minutes to read the reports of what the BOE is doing in B-R to realize that the harmony and teamwork many of us worked for decades to cultivate has eroded drastically," said reader Ken Villani. "Sad. So sad."

"I am truly amazed by the negative attitudes and comments that have been launched at the educators here in Bridgewater," said reader Fred H. "First and foremost, these are the people that educate our children, recognize their potential, open their minds, make them feel good about themselves and lead them to knowledge and understanding so they realize that they can become whatever they want later in life."

But we don't want the conversation to end here. The negotiations are continuing, and teachers are expected to show up for the two upcoming board of education meetings in May with continued intent to speak out about the state of the negotiations.

So head on over to the story about the meeting, and let's continue the discussions, and don't forget to let your vote be heard in our poll.

Laura April 27, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Penny wise dollar foolish. I am a tax payer keep the highy publicized give back of approximately $50.00 and put my share back into our public schools. I moved back to Bridgewater because of the high quality of the district's record, now I feel this blatant lack of respect towards teachers will bring my property values down and affect our children. My children are in wonderful colleges partly because of the wonderful education they received at BR.
Toni April 27, 2012 at 11:40 AM
There is so much more to the school budget than staff salaries and benefits. If you are really concerned about where your tax dollars are going, you should attend more board of education meetings and find out. What happens with the BREA contract neogtiations should be the least of your concerns. It really isn't about what you make vs. what "they" make. If you really feel the need to compare, find a teacher with the same education and years of experience as you. Then make the comparison. You will be surprised. These are the people to whom you entrust your children for over 7 hours every day. They shoulder the bulk of the responsibility for shaping who your children become over the course of 13 years. Do we really want to tell these people "you are not worth it, we'd rather have someone cheaper"? Or maybe "I didn't get a raise last year in my job, so you shouldn't either"? I, for one, would not want to step into their shoes for even a minute. I know what my two sons are like on a rainy weekend. I would definitely not want 24 of them in one room with me for 7 hours every day!!! I implore the Board of Education to stop playing around and lose the attitude. Figure out a way to make it work and get this settled. It's been going on for way too long and I'm ashamed of you. And I will remember, come election time.
Heather April 27, 2012 at 12:43 PM
How about Supervisor's taking more of a cut...most teachers do not make a large salary, attacking the low man on the totem pole is disgusting. The teachers are being treated unfairly from every angle these days. Supervisor's putting more work on them, paperwork, computer work, and overall demands ( usually not regarding the children) and then the public is attacking because they want to be treated fairly....let's face it - teachers got into the job to help our community, and teach children - not to become rich.
BRRES April 27, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Laura, as a resident of bridgewater, I couldn't agree more. Keep the lousy $50 and give the teachers what they deserve. I moved to Bridgewater because of the quality of schools. Our property values will drop and we can only thank the current BOE. As residents we need to attend board meetings and tell the board what we think. Gather as many neighbors and friends from the BR district and attend the next meeting(Tuesday, May 8th, 8PM, Wade Building.) I know I will be there to let them know how I feel. Please JOIN me!
Mike April 28, 2012 at 03:53 PM
What many who don't have "kids in the system" do not realize is that the reputation of the district is a key component in property values - a benefit to all residents. Ask real estate agents about this. Now, that doesn't mean we should lavish above-market raises to district personnel, but it does mean that it's essential to maintain or improve this reputation. Go visit schools, especially high schools, in other Central NJ districts. Find another - especially one with nearly 3000 students - that does not require a fleet of security staff (there are a few, but that's the exception, not the rule), for starters. Say, after this difficult situation, the BoE is able to boast it saved the average homeowner $50 or even $100 a year in taxes. Then, over the next several years, additional cuts are made. Eventually this will have an effect (e.g., "Why do my kid's classes have almost 30 students?"). Go ask people in other districts who repeatedly vote down budgets or otherwise make cuts to public education what the long-term effects are. If your home loses even 2% in value, that's $8000 on the median home value of $400K. For $100/yr savings? After years of good relations between B-REA and the BoE, the toxicity of the past couple of years is a direct result of Christie's attacks on public education (he was a lobbyist for private schools in the past, and worked for Cerf), and effective campaigns by the likes of NJ 101.5 and other education-deform pundits.
Mike April 28, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Unlike teacher compensation, supervisor/administrator pay varies significantly across districts. Good as they are, B-R administrators are extremely well-compensated compared to other districts'. I don't work with them so I won't judge if they're worth the premium. I think we will see changes over the next few years - not reductions in compensation, but dramatic increases in responsibilities (e.g., consolidation). Each year supervisors, administrators, and teachers are forced to do more and more documentation, paperwork, etc. - (sometimes this is dictated by the Superintendent's office but usually it's the State or Feds). At the same time, more and more kids with learning and/or behavioral disabilities who were formerly taught by specialists in low student:teacher ratio classes are now being dumped into general education classes with 20-30 students each and little or no support. Does it save money? Sure. Will it affect the much-heralded test scores (not to mention learning in general)? As Sarah Palin says, "you betcha!" Funding for mandatory professional development is drying up. All the people I know who are employees (not self-employed) in the private sector get paid time off to attend conferences and CEU training (e.g., CPAs and lawyers need many hours of continuing education to maintain their certifications); increasingly, this is not true for teachers. BTW, in 2-3 years, the average teacher will pay ~$800/month toward medical.
Reallynow13 April 28, 2012 at 05:16 PM
You raised an excellent point!!! Is losing 2% value or $8000, on and average home in BR-due to deteriorating relations with the BOE and BREA, worth the $50-$75 a year the teachers are asking for? I think not!!!! I'll give it back. Who do I make the check out to????
B-R resident/parent May 01, 2012 at 12:08 AM
I have heard that our taxes will not even go up! Can anyone confirm this? I, too, cannot believe that we think that we can continue to bash our teachers and put our kids on the bus each morning. I have not been following everything, but I have 4 kids in this district. How did our perception of our teachers get this bad? Yes, I have had a couple of teachers I was not thrilled with, but on the whole, I cannot say enough about the bulk of them. (at least 20 teachers!) I am definitely going to the next Board meeting to cheer them on.
BRRES May 01, 2012 at 11:20 AM
To B-R resident/parent - You should not only go to the next meeting, but you need to get up and speak to the Board. Ask the board your first question, let them know you have 4 children in the district and let them know that they need to stop bashing our teachers. I plan on being there to support our teachers as well and speak to the board on similar points. This must end now, We MUST show the BOE how much we support our teachers. Bring ALL your friends and neighbors who agree with you. Signed, Concerned BR Resident
Taylor May 01, 2012 at 03:47 PM
B-R resident/parent...your taxes will not go up. The board already has the money. They are just not willing to spend it. The board has been left alone for a long time with no one watching the store. It is time for the residents of this community (myself included) to become more involved and voice our opinions about how this money is being spent. It is not the board's job to be a champion and a protector for the members of this community. If that is their motivation then they should run for town council! This contract needs to be settled so that we can get back to the education of the children in this community.
B-R resident/parent May 02, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Thank you for responding. I do know a lot of parents who are on the teachers' sides, but they are very busy. Is there a petition that can be started? I went to one Board meeting a couple of years ago, and it was long. I am planning to go, but it is dufficult for many parents who are working long hours and doing homework with their kids to be out at night. Any suggestions?
Metoo May 02, 2012 at 12:37 AM
e-mail comes to mind: http://www.brrsd.k12.nj.us/board_members.cfm?master=7
BRRES May 02, 2012 at 12:59 AM
I agree with me too, go to this web address: http://www.brrsd.k12.nj.us/board_members.cfm?master=7", it list each current board of education member and their email address. Let them know your feelings, let them know you have 4 children in the district, let them know that they need to stop bashing the valuable and dedicated teachers of OUR district. Also share this with your friends/family/neighbors etc. and have them email the BOE members as well. The only way to change their stubborn mindset is to have all us parents flood them with emails and the concerns we have. I have not heard of a petition, but I think directly contacting is the way to go. I have already emailed each one to tell them that what they are doing to the teachers is unfair. Be sure to ask them to respond to you because you about yourconcerns. I'm still waiting for my responses... No surprise!
Taylor May 03, 2012 at 12:06 AM
B-R resident parent Send all of the board members an email...they do have an impact

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