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No Contract Yet For Ridgewood Teachers

Ridgewood Teachers

September 7, 2016

Dear Parents and Guardians,
Now that your children have started the new school year, we wanted to provide you with information about the status of the contract negotiations with the Ridgewood Education Association (REA).
Last night, September 6, the Board of Education members and the REA negotiating team met with the state-appointed super conciliator for ten hours. Although progress was made, settlement was not reached.
While we strive to settle the contract, our teachers and support staff continue to be paid under the terms and conditions of the expired contract. Teachers and support staff will receive their full salaries and benefits without any interruption or reduction. Stipends paid to staff members hired as advisors to our clubs, sports and performing arts extra-curricular programs will also continue to be fully funded in accordance with the expired contract.
However, please understand that at this time, teachers may refuse to take on club advisory responsibilities. They also may refuse to volunteer in some activities that fall outside the contract. For example, they may refuse to chaperone overnight/after-school field trips. If such actions occur, your child’s principal or other administrator will communicate this information directly to you.
In conversations with parents, some have offered to volunteer and take over club and field trip responsibilities. Some activities can be sponsored or supervised by parents, while other can’t for various insurance and personal liability reasons. Your child’s principal is the best source of guidance on this topic.
Teachers and support staff may also choose to strictly adhere to their contractual 7.5-hour work day, as listed below in parentheses. To minimize any disruptions to our children or our programs, and to keep our school buildings running smoothly during this time, we are asking you to follow the designated drop-off and pick-up times:
• Elementary schools (8 a.m.-3:35 p.m.) o Drop-off time: not before 8:35 a.m. o Pick-up time: 3 p.m.
• Middle schools (7:45 a.m.-3:20 p.m.) o Drop-off time: not before 7:45 a.m. o Pick-up time: 2:55 p.m.
• High School (7:40 a.m.-3:15 p.m.) o Drop-off time: 7:40 a.m. o Pick-up time: 3:15 p.m.
Lastly, it is important to clear up any misconception that our teachers and secretaries can go on strike. In New Jersey it is illegal for public employees to strike. A 1967 NJ Supreme Court decision, In Re Block, confirmed this. Since then, teachers in districts such as Manville and Middletown have tried to strike and have had the county courts grant injunctions stopping them. Some teachers were arrested for civil contempt in violating the court injunctions.
The NJ Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) has also re-affirmed that strikes are illegal and are not a protected union activity. The courts and PERC have consistently upheld the withholding of pay/benefits on days when teachers refuse to work.
While changes to activities may be an unfortunate reality during this period, it is important to stress that the Board of Education is committed to finalizing a contract that fairly compensates our teachers without jeopardizing the financial integrity of the district.
We are scheduled to meet again with the super conciliator on September 12 at 6:30 PM. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as the Board works through this process to finalize a labor contract.
Ridgewood Board of Education Sheila Brogan, President Vince Loncto, Vice President Christina Krauss Jim Morgan Jennie Smith Wilson