Parent Asks About Contract Negotiations

During tonight’s Board Of Education (BOE) meeting, a mother of a school district student stepped up to the microphone during the second public portion to ask if there was a meeting scheduled for the BOE to meet with the Roselle Park Education Association (RPEA) regarding contract negotiations. The import of the question for her was a personal one. The contract negotiations were affecting her child’s education.

After whispering her name, she began telling the BOE and those in attendance that her son had asked for extra help and was told by his teacher that teachers were not allowed to give it any more because they have no contract.

The collective bargaining agreement between Roselle Park teachers and the BOE expired on June 30, 2012. Still, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), school employees never work without a contract. Until a new agreement is reached, all of the provisions of the expired agreement remain in effect. Additionally, records show that even though the existing teachers’ contract expired over seven months ago, that very collective bargaining agreement was not signed nor agreed to by the RPEA and the BOE until May of 2010. During those 10 months after the previous contract expired, there was no public mention of teachers refusing to provide extra help for students.

“They will not be able to stay after school or come in early for any kind of extra help,” the parent stated regarding what she said a teacher told her son, “That the Board would not have a meeting with them and that they were working without a contract.”

“That’s a shame that a teacher would say that to a child,” BOE member and contract negotiation committee member Loren Harms responded, adding that he could not comment on anything that the teacher has said to her child but stated that a meeting was scheduled for Thursday, February 21st between both parties.

After the BOE meeting, RPEA President Kathleen MacDonald commented on the matter by stating, “Teachers are working within their contractual hours.”

Mrs. MacDonald added that the existing contract – under Article 10, Section A – calls for teachers to be available five (5) minutes before their first class and 10 minutes after their last class ‘to meet needs of counseling, extra help, and necessary make-up’, at which time, the student could see his teacher for additional assistance.