RPEA Contract Approved. Average Salary Increase 2.9%. No Change In Prep Periods.

The three-year Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Roselle Park Board Of Education (BOE) and the Roselle Park Education Association (RPEA) was approved by the school board at their October meeting with only five of the nine-member board voting on the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Three school board members – Kevin Cancino, Christopher Miller, and Sundjata Sekou were absent from the meeting. One BOE member, Joseph Signorello Jr, stated he would be abstaining from the vote due to a conflict of interest with his wife working in the school district.

Salaries in the contract will have an average increase of 2.9% over three years with the increase being 3.0% for the 2018-19 school year, 2.9% for 2019-20, and 2.8% for the final year of the contract. All raises will be retroactive from July 1st of this year.

The 2.9% average is half a percent more than the average increase of 2.4% for the 2015-2018 RPEA Agreement and almost an entire percent over the annual 2% increase in the 2012-2015 RPEA contract.

Other significant changes include:

  • The co-pay changed from a flat $15 for the POS plan and $10 for Direct Access to a tiered co-pay for both plans
    • Office Co-Pay $15 PCP / $25 Specialist
    • Out of Network Co-Insurance – 70%
    • Emergency Room Co-Pay – $100
    • In Network Hospital Co-Pay – $200
    • Out of Network Deductible – $200 Single/ $500 Family
    • Out of Network Maximum Out of Pocket – $4,000 Single/ $10,000 Family Prescription – 20% Retail/ $0 Mail Order
  • All employees hired after July 1, 2018, will automatically be enrolled in the OMNIA Medical Plan
  • Courses for MA Degree or MA+30 must be taken at a Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (“CAEP”) accredited university, college, or program. The section that allowed online courses was removed.

In May of this year, other matters were agreed upon in the Tentative Agreement. They included the removal of approving the minutes for negotiation sessions and the removal of references to dates that are no longer relevant. A doctor’s note for absences was changed from a requirement to an option and the number of days was deleted. The tentative agreement also removed the provision which gave an additional $2 in salary to any paraprofessional who waived insurance coverage.

Despite the board’s efforts, a change in the contract language that would affect the art classes could not be included in the party settlement” – Troy Gerten

One significant portion of the contract which was part of negotiations but remains unchanged amid protestations from parents and the school board had to do with prep periods was the number of preparation periods for elementary school teachers.

Currently, the 2015-2018 RPEA Agreement provided elementary school teachers with seven (7) prep periods during the school week. Previous contracts had five (5) prep periods. This caused an issue earlier in the school year, in October of 2017, when parents approached the school board upset regarding the changes in their children’s class schedules. This change was related to prep periods and resulted in less instructional time for some classes including music and art – an average of 10 minutes less. The issue of prep periods was brought up again when the school board announced this August that it had reached a tentative agreement with the RPEA (link).

This latest Memorandum Of Agreement had the prep periods originally be proposed as four (4) but then increased back to five (5). Still, the matter was taken off the table.

When the matter came up for a vote, school board member Chad Hemenway, before voting to approve the contract, said, “I’m a conflicted board member because my wife is a teacher so I can’t be in on any talks and I haven’t been. I can’t be involved in any of the details and I can’t even see the agreement but I can vote on the agreement. This doesn’t put in the best spot – to vote on something I haven’t seen – but I do have the recommendation of the board’s negotiations committee whose charged with doing exactly what they’ve done, this particular job acting on the district’s behalf. So I must trust, I have no reason not to trust, that the committee worked towards the best possible outcome here and it’s beneficial to the town as well.”

Additionally, BOE member Troy Gerten read from a prepared statement addressing the prep periods and other aspects of the negotiations. He stated:

“On July 19, 2018, the board and the association reached a settlement for the 2018 through 2021 agreement. As is the case with any negotiations, the settlement represents a compromise between the parties. Neither party received everything it desired. The agreement requires the approval of the board and the association, not just their respective negotiation committees. As negotiations progressed, salary numbers and health benefits pushed to the forefront as top priorities for both parties. These issues have district-wide implications for the board and the employees and correspond most directly to taxpayer dollars. The board was able to obtain a settlement consisting of health benefit savings that enabled it to provide salary increase for employees that are competitive among comparable districts.

While the issue of art class offerings in relation to the elementary preparation time was discussed on many occasions, the association and the board were unable to negotiate a change to the existing contract language. Despite the board’s efforts, a change in the contract language that would affect the art classes could not be included in the party settlement. The board asserted its position on preparation timing and [its] relationship to the art classes until the final night of negotiations. When the continued adherence to this position would have jeopardized the entire settlement, unfortunately the board was required to move away from its proposal regarding art classes to ensure that it honored its fiduciary duty to the taxpayers of Roselle Park to obtain a reasonable settlement.

At the present time, the administration is reviewing the current schedule and its contractual obligations to determine if there is another solution to the problem. The administration will report on its findings at the conclusion of its review. Further, the administration will continue to work with the teachers to provide the high quality education and produce superb, well-rounded students.”

Mr. Gerten added, “I’d like to personally thank my committee. It was supposed to be a committee of three but it ended up being a committee of two, so I want to thank you, Matthew, for all the efforts.”

Mr. Gerten was referring to outgoing school board member Kevin Cancino who was absent from numerous BOE meetings and – apparently – from negotiation sessions, based on Mr. Gerten’s comment.

He concluded by saying, “I want to thank Pedro and Sue. Not many people realize what goes into a negotiation between, any negotiations and its a lot of professional discussions from both sides of the table and a lot of effort. A lot of evenings are given up by both the association and the board members [who] are on the committee to work through it.”

BOE President Loren Harms added, “I just want to thank the committee also for their hard work, both parties, I thank you for all the hard work so we can move on and still educate our children.”

The contract has not been formally ratified, only the Memorandum Of Agreement. This document provides the changes in the previous contract and remains in place until the Collective Bargaining Agreement – with the changes made in the Memorandum of Agreement included – are signed by both parties.

A copy of the Memorandum Of Agreement, salary guides, and previous Collective Bargaining Agreements are included below:

Download RPSD 2018-21 Memorandum Of Agreement for RPEA Collective Bargaining Agreement (Signed)

Download RPSD 2018-21 Base Year Guides (Signed)

Download RPSD 2018-21 Salary Guide Grids

Download RPSD BOE & RPEA Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2015-2018

Download RPSD BOE & RPEA Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2012-2015