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Ridgewood School Board Approves 3-Year Teacher Pact

Signs in support of Ridgewood teachers have remained in place all over the village for months.
Signs in support of Ridgewood teachers have remained in place all over the village for months. Photo Credit: DAILY VOICE

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — The Ridgewood Board of Education voted to approve a three-year contract with village teachers and support staff Monday night, according to a board statement released on Twitter .

The contract, ratified by the Ridgewood Education Association Sept. 28, ends an impasse that started 15 months ago.

The three-year pact covers July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018.

It calls for a 1 percent raise for the first year and 2.7 percent each of the remaining years, according to the board statement.

“Importantly, the approved contract assures that our salaries will continue to be competitive, allowing our district to attract and retain highly qualified teachers,” the statement reads.

Under the agreement, union members can continue to enroll in NJ Direct 10 or any of the other 20 state-offered health benefit plans.

However, the statement reads, those hired on or after Sept. 12 of this year must enroll in NJ Direct 15 or any other state-offered school employee medical plan.

"The REA is happy to have this process behind us and are grateful that the state-appointed fact finder and super conciliator was able to help us generate a settlement," said Laura Davina Grasso, Negotiations Chair, Ridgewood Education Association.

"Without this process and the assistance of Dr. Dan Fishbein, we would most likely still be at impasse.

"This association is confident that the Board of Education will be able to budget for next school year without any reduction to the school curricular programs."

Also under contention was the amount teachers pay for their health premiums.

Effective Jan. 1, 2017, according to the statement, full-time teachers will pay between 14 and 25 percent of the premiums for their medical, dental, and prescription coverage.

“As an example, using an 8.6 percent increase for the 2017 NJ Direct 10 premiums,” the statement reads, “teachers choosing family coverage would contribute between $4,676 (14%) and $8,684 (26%).”

The Kaiser Family 2016 survey shows the average American worker pays $5,277 for family medical coverage, according to the board.

The contract will cost the district $2.5 million over the 2 percent cap on spending as opposed to the $4.4 million excess suggested by a state-appointed fact finder in an earlier proposal.

“The board and administration are now tasked with the challenge of funding the contract,” the statement reads.

That will require budgetary reductions that will result in programming and staffing changes next year.

The association represents some 550 teachers and secretarial professionals in the Ridgewood public schools.

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