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Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association (PTHEA) Negotiations | Parsippany Focus
Sunday, June 23, 2024
HomeLocal NewsParsippany-Troy Hills Education Association (PTHEA) Negotiations

Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association (PTHEA) Negotiations

PARSIPPANY — This statement from the Parsippany Board of Education is to provide an accurate and timely update to the community on the status of negotiations between the Board of Education and the PTHEA.

The Board’s Negotiations Team met with the PTHEA and the State-appointed mediator for the second time on January 24, 2022. Unfortunately, we did not come to an agreement. The Board continues to make reasonable salary offers and seeks to implement practices that will support students and teachers, as well as provide some long-term containment of high health insurance costs to the district. The PTHEA leadership, however, is not interested in any change to the contract that would result in additional instructional time with students, and they will not negotiate towards more sustainable health insurance costs.

The Board has worked with the PTHEA in the past three contracts to offset the impact of Chapter 78 – the legislation that required teachers to contribute towards the cost of their health insurance. The Board provided both a flat dollar amount and a cap to the amount that members had to contribute towards their plans.

Last year, the Legislature provided teachers with the opportunity to elect new plans, which included significant savings and cost them less in their contributions. In effect, the Legislature gave the teachers relief that the Board had already provided in their contracts. Given this fact, and after nine contract years of providing teachers Chapter 78 relief, the Board requested that some – not all – of the significant concessions that it had previously made, be revised but only to the most expensive health insurance plan that the Board has been required to continue. The PTHEA has made it clear that it does not believe it needs to make any concessions during negotiations.

The Board also wants to address the PTHEA’s, “Open letter to the Parsippany-Troy Hills Community.”  When a contract expires, as the PTHEA contract did June 30, 2021, the parties continue to honor the terms of that contract as they are legally obligated to do.  Therefore, all teachers, except those on the top of the salary guide, received a step increment which included a salary increase for the 2021-22 school year.

The BOE Negotiations team did not agree to the salary increases demanded by the PTHEA. The Board’s salary proposal of 3% for the 2020-2021 school year, 3.1% for the 2021-2022 school year, and 3.1% for the 2022-2023 school year, which are at or higher than the county average, was more than fair; however, the PTHEA demanded a 3.56% salary increase for the 2020-2021 school year, 3.56% for the 2021-2022 school year, and a 3.56% for the 2022-2023 school year, an increase of 10.68% over three years.

The district is required to adhere to a 2% tax levy increase which funds all of our educational programs. The BOE should not have to find itself in a position where cuts to staffing and programs are the only option – this is not good for students or staff. The BOE has always put students’ education first and has made every effort to ensure our teacher’s needs are met.  The PTHEA’s salary demands, if accepted, leave the BOE and the taxpayers of Parsippany-Troy Hills with the harsh reality of funding these raises along with the ever-increasing cost of health benefits and normal operating cost increases at the risk of cuts to programs.

For the past three contract cycles, the PTHEA’s leadership has painted the Board of Education as unwilling to negotiate in good faith and disrespectful of teachers.  This could not be further from the truth.  As you will see below, teachers have received both respect and consideration for the job they do every day.

  • During the March 2020 shutdown, the Board continued to pay stipends for co-curricular, extracurricular, and athletic responsibilities even though staff members could not oversee, engage in, and complete stipend activities. Those teaching staff members who requested a “spring stipend” received their FULL stipend payment during the spring of 2020.
  • In September of 2020, our building administrators were encouraged to work with our teaching staff to address any personal issues that arose due to the pandemic. Many teachers were permitted to leave to pick up their own children,  visit the doctor, attend to family members, etc. without having to use their contractual sick, personal, or family illness time.
  • In November 2020, the Board approved the Superintendent’s recommendation that teachers be permitted to leave school midday and teach from home/conduct tutorial sessions during the afternoons rather than their classrooms in order to attend to home matters. This accommodation, which was not provided to other district staff, was in effect until June 2021.
  • The Board approved the recommendation of the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources that staff not be penalized for quarantine periods during the 2020-21 school year. No one needed to use sick or personal days for quarantining as many other districts required.
  • The district maintained a Virtual Friday schedule at the K-8 level through November 30, 2020, and at the high school level through May 7, 2021; most staff members were able to work from home on Virtual Fridays in a tutorial/office hour capacity and without the same demands as their regular schedule would require.
  • The District arranged for free of charge vaccinations for staff members and permitted staff to obtain vaccinations without the use of sick or personal time.
  • The Assistant Superintendent for HR and the Superintendent regularly approved teachers’ requests for non-accumulative additional sick leave at full pay less the cost of a substitute in cases of prolonged absence where members ran out of sick time or when they had utilized all of their family ill days.
  • The PTHEA Leadership exerted constant pressure on the Board of Education and Superintendent throughout the 2020-21 school year to remain closed and continue with full remote learning. Even earlier this month, the PTHEA Leadership requested that the district send students home at lunch and run an early dismissal schedule for an indeterminate period. None of this behavior is supportive of students or parents and fails to recognize what all health officials and educators have indicated, children need to be in school.

These actions by the Board do not demonstrate scornful derision but rather respect of our teachers and their individual circumstances during a time when many school districts did not or could not allow flexibility did not or could not pay stipends, or required staff members to exhaust their contractual time when the need arose.

This is done because the BOE and Central Office respects and cares for our teaching staff.

In the past, the PTHEA has started job actions during negotiations and the BOE understands that it seems to be the intent again. While this option is certainly available, after a pandemic-filled two years, district experience shows that the individuals who will suffer most from job actions will be our students.

The BOE wants what is best for our students, community, and teachers at a reasonable fiscal cost.  The BOE is asking that the PTHEA reconsider its stance in refusing to make concessions that would allow the District to maintain its present health insurance, instructional plans, and sustainable salary increases.

Click here to download “Statement Regarding Impasse with PTHEA 12-1-21″

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Frank L. Cahill
Frank L. Cahill
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President of Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town and Chairman of Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board.
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