BOE invites all to review memorandum
To The Editor,
The Board of Education is committed to communicating accurate information related to contract negotiations with the Ridgewood Education Association (REA). Laura Grasso’s letter to the editor last Friday was significantly misleading. Here are the facts.
* The Board has modified its contract proposals several times in the last year and on Jan. 20 and again on Feb. 29 we offered higher salaries, withdrew proposals related to additional time, and modified our healthcare proposal.
* The REA’s latest proposal would reduce their healthcare contributions by over $2.1 million over a new 3-year contract. Accepting such a proposal would require the Board to make significant cuts in other areas of the budget.
* Teachers currently contribute 25.7 percent of the cost of their healthcare premiums and the district pays 74.3 percent. The Board has offered to adjust the individual percentage contribution rates as long as the net contributions continue to equal 25.7 percent of the healthcare premiums.
* In 2012 the Board reduced healthcare costs by changing to the state health insurance plans. The Board shared these savings with the REA by increasing their salary 2.75 percent each year for the last three years.
* The change in the health insurance plan recently proposed by the Board for the new contract compares favorably with plans offered in the private sector with copays of $15 for primary and specialist doctor visits.
* The REA contends that the Board has $3.5 million to fund the contract settlement. This is untrue. The $3.5 million is a number calculated by the REA and the NJEA for their fact-finding submission. We believe that it fails to account for both the revenue and the expense sides in specific budget areas.
* Our teachers are among the highest paid in Bergen County. The Board recognizes the importance of competitive salaries to attract and retain talented and highly qualified teachers.
* NJ law, Chapter 44, limits the Board to annual property tax increases of no more than 2 percent. While the law allows for limited waivers to provide small tax increases above 2 percent, the Board is reluctant to further burden Ridgewood taxpayers.
* The fact that four of the Board members do not have children in our schools does not lessen our commitment to our students and staff. Our children graduated from Ridgewood High School. We are acutely aware of the quality of our schools and grateful for the education they received.
To continue our “tradition of excellence” our district must be financially sound. We cannot commit to salaries and benefit costs that exceed what the district can afford. To clearly understand the Board’s position, the public is invited to review our fact-finding memorandum posted to the district’s website at ridgewood.k12.nj.us.
The Board will continue to conduct our negotiations with genuine respect for our staff. We want to settle the contract with the REA and move forward in a positive manner.
Jennie Smith Wilson
Ridgewood Board of Education
Click here to read a Letter to the Editor of The Ridgewood News, which appeared in the paper on February 12, 2016.
Click here to read the Ridgewood Board of Education’s Fact-Finding Presentation with the The Ridgewood Education Association.
Click here to view the backup for the Ridgewood Board of Education’s Fact-Finding Presentation with The Ridgewood Education Association.
BOE Meets on March 7 at 7:30 p.m.
The Ridgewood Board of Education will hold a Regular Public Meeting on Monday, March 7, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
The public is invited to attend the meeting at the Ed Center, 49 Cottage Place, Floor 3. The meeting may also be viewed on FiOS channel 33, Optimum channel 77 or from computers via the “Live BOE Meeting” tab on the district website.FiOS channel 33, Optimum channel 77 or from computers via the “Live BOE Meeting” tab on the district website.
BOE MEETING REGULATIONS
At all regular meetings, two opportunities are provided for citizens to make comments. The public comment periods will be scheduled after presentations and approximately 9:00 p.m. or just prior to the end of the meeting, whichever occurs first.
The first opportunity may be limited by the presiding officer to conclude at about 8:00 p.m. in order for the Board to continue with its scheduled agenda. The second opportunity will occur at about 9:00 p.m. at the discretion of the presiding officer taking into consideration a break point in the agenda.
At every opportunity for public comment, citizens are invited to comment on subjects on the agenda or general topics. At the discretion of the presiding officer, public comments may be permitted at other times. Persons wishing to speak must, upon being recognized, rise, sign in, and state their names and addresses.
Each speaker shall be limited to four minutes. The Board Recorder will note the time. A speaker who has not finished in the allotted time will be directed by the presiding officer to summarize quickly and relinquish the floor within 30 seconds. Comments shall be limited to issues.
If personal remarks or discourteous statements are made, the presiding officer shall require the speaker to stop. No person will be recognized for a second time until all others asking to speak have been heard.
Click here to view the agenda for the March 7, 2016 Regular Public Meeting.