PARSIPPANY — As members of the Parsippany Board of Education’s PTHEA negotiations team, we would like to take the opportunity to tell you – we hear you.
We are neighbors, parents, and volunteers in this community. We have children and grandchildren in Parsippany elementary, middle, and high schools. Our children hear what the teachers are saying about negotiations and have been affected as much by the teachers’ job actions as your families have.
We were elected to represent all students, all staff, and all community members while also ensuring that the District is operated in a fiscally responsible manner – not just this year, not just next year, but for many years to come. As part of the negotiations team we are conducting ourselves with those obligations in mind. We listen to teachers tell us the misinformation that is being relayed to them by their negotiations team. The PTHEA team has accused the Board/Administration for months of delaying a contract. It simply isn’t true. The PTHEA’s team has come to these negotiations sessions unprepared – using incorrect information and not accepting it was incorrect until it was confirmed to them by the mediator and their NJEA representative. They’ve arrived at mediations without proposals to discuss causing the Board’s team to sit for hours while missing our children’s and grandchildren’s functions.
The PTHEA has made it clear that they expect the Board to bring their net pay back to where it was before they started contributing for their healthcare. This is fiscally impossible and an irresponsible request. While the Board has offered significant relief from Chapter 78 contributions, it cannot return to a no-cost contribution toward health insurance premiums. The Board has offered a cap on the percentage contribution which is lower than what many of our most senior staff pay. The Board cannot again cut programs, services, and staff in remedying a cost imposed by the State – not the District. Net pay is not controlled by the Board or the District; it is controlled at the individual level, and the Board proposals give each employee options that can increase their net pay. Our negotiations team has given the PTHEA proposals that would:
● Provide salary raises consistent with the County average
● Increase health insurance options – with only employee voluntary changes
● Cap teacher health insurance contribution rates lower than is currently being paid by the majority of our teaching staff
Each of these items increases the annual cost to the District, so we have proposed a $5 prescription co-pay increase to help offset some of this cost. Even that concession has been rebuffed. The PTHEA’s proposals increase District expenses well in excess of the taxes raised, which means that other district expenses, programs, and services must be cut. We are very disappointed that the teachers have chosen to use the students as pawns in negotiations. While we personally support and respect the teachers in our District, refusing to support student’s activities as a stand for a “better” contract is simply wrong. The community, parents, and students have to come to expect and should continue to expect that the excellent education our children receive is not dependent upon whether their teachers are content with the status of negotiations. Negotiations are procedurally very complex and require both parties to work towards finding common ground.
The Board will not sacrifice students’ education or the present or future fiscal security of our District. Notwithstanding any disagreement about the process, we continue to be optimistic about reaching a contract that will be fair and reasonable to all parties.
Additional details of our offer and history of the negotiations can be found on the District website, by clicking here.
Alison Cogan – Chair, George Blair, Joseph Cistaro, Susy Golderer
Board of Education Negotiation Team