Montclair Education Association Will Not Open Negotiations

Montclair’s Board of Education meeting on December 20 was more talk about ways  the school board can close the $6.7 million budget gap. For months, options have been thrown out, including closing schools, cutting transportation costs, eliminating bus aides and renegotiating  teacher contracts.

The latter was shut down by Margaret Astorino, Interim President of the Montclair Education Association (MEA), who says in this YouTube video, which is making the rounds in Montclair, “The contract is written. It’s good until June 30, 2012. We have no intention whatsoever of reopening that contract.”

Instead, the  MEA offers its own cost cutting recommendations on its website:

These cost savings recommendations were solicited from the MEA members reviewed by Executive Board, discussed and revised by Rep. Council, published in the Upfront and given the to Board of Education for consideration.

  • Disperse the Pre-K DLC to other buildings – saves tuition, parking for staff and paying rent.
  • Check all thermostats in schools and regularly monitor efficiency of heating.
  • Re-evaluate the extended school year for the DLC and bring to the minimal legal requirements.
  • Explore pay to participate for sports and clubs.
  • Open field house/weight room and charge for use of facility.  Have a fee that is less than area gyms. 
  • Have district run before and after care at all buildings.
  • District has extra furniture, have a sale or look to other districts that may want to buy used furniture to save the expense of new.  When Renaissance moved to Rand a lot of good furniture was thrown away.
  • Start our own Pre-K and charge tuition?
  • Lease the Board of Education office building
  • Move the Board of Education to Bullock .
  • We support bringing the special education kids back to the district.  Find the teachers and aides needed from among our current staff and train if necessary.  Since we have space available, use it.  Put a cap on how much we spend per special needs child. 
  • Ramp up efforts to find out of district students.
  • Ask administrators to take a freeze or a cut. 
  • Audit bus routes (including number of riders) for efficiency.
  • Make renting the buildings profitable.
  • Look into advertising dollars. (fields, gyms, buildings)
  • Monitor productivity at Central Office and cap administrative salaries.
  • Follow through on revenue raising suggestions that can be immediately implemented.
  • District wide fundraising by all the PTA’s .  Put all  into a fund to save jobs.
  • Get rid of convocation speakers and use in-house personnel.
  • Eliminate consultants and compensate our own members.
  • Cut supervisors at Central Office
  • Examine the calendar year.  (It was suggested that during the 70’s oil crisis February break was created to save money).
  • Encourage more Grant writing by Central Office staff.
  • Why is the board not suing the State for not funding the district?  How are we supposed to deliver a constitutionally mandated “thorough and efficient education” in the midst of extreme budgetary restraints?
  • Charge tuition for summer school and provide open enrollment fee based summer school. 
  • Utilize star portal, do more electronic forms.
  • Look into the following for possible cost reductions:

230-890 Dues Superintendants Office $43,672.
Business supplies/Personnel supplies $9,241./
$43,787 shouldn’t this be under the CO supplies?
Look at page 78 Admin supplies $48,233.

The next public school board meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 24 at the Atrium of the George Inness Annex on 141 Park Street.

Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.


  1. (Where was the cut in Special Ed? Bringing some kids back to district, if possible, makes sense.)

    But this list is a MESS. C’mon, PRIORITIZE IT, make it make sense, estimate savings, etc. Just having a scattershot of bullet items is confusing and makes me- a STRONG Union supporter- question how serious the MEA is, or at least the competence of its leadership.

    The BOE budget is surely bloated- too many high salary Administrators is an obvious example. Commenters on this site (ROC, especially) have pointed this out. Others have offered specific ideas. But the MEA offers this? Sadly, this is embarrassing.

  2. Prof –

    Re-evaluate the extended school year for the DLC and bring to the minimal legal requirements.

    Put a cap on how much we spend per special needs child.

  3. This contract must be reopened as part of any fair-minded budget reset. Anything less is an abdication of leadership.

  4. Perhaps if the town declared bankruptcy it could renegotiate all its contracts…

    Imagine there’s no pension
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to retire on
    ‘Cept a lousy 401 (k)

    You may say I’m a dreamer…

  5. townie,

    For years the Union negotiated in good faith with the Town. The Town agreed to the current contract. Last year, teachers agreed to pay part of their health insurance. And now you want to “open” it back up?

    Why have a contract if, it can so easily be reneged on under the pretense of a “fair-minded budget reset.” I don’t remember the Union deciding to build an UGLY and EXPENSIVE school we didn’t need. I don’t remember the Union deciding to not reduce the number of those (many, useless) Administrators. Nor do I remember the Union deciding to never have a rainy day fund.

    No. The BOE made most of the BIG money mistakes by themselves– THAT school, THAT school….. For them to now act like it’s the teachers fault, is unfair. However, if the Town must cut and it jeopardizes jobs, perhaps then the Union would negotiate, but for the Union to simply offer to open up their contract without anything guarantees is dumb.

    (Of course this would require some real accounting of the money….)

  6. We, in NJ, when compared to the other states classify and remove more students to special education programs than most other states. It is excessive and not educationally sound. The culture of expectations for this segregation must change and significant cost savings will follow.

  7. Define “in good faith.”

    The mayor has said publicly that the BOE deserves everything it asks for. He also has stated that he has little power in approving the contract. So who does this MEA negotiate with?

    The MEA would rather see class sizes increased than their paychecks decreased. Their contribution to health care is a joke as is their longevity pay guarantees. Wake me up when either the administration or the MEA decides to join in the sacrifice. Until then, here’s my wallet.

  8. @ Humphrey – But you’re not the only one. I say declare bankruptcy. To be sure there is plenty of fault on both sides, but is the MEA serious with let’s sell some extra desks to make up for the $6.7 million budget gap and have the PTA, which is free labor for the school, take more money out of parents’ pockets (who do you think buys the brownies?) to put into teacher salaries even though the parents already pay the salaries with their taxes. Now the parents should pay twice? The MEA should be ashamed. Oh, yes, and let’s blame the 5 kids in Special Ed. for all the budgetary woes. I’m sure that is the real problem.

    Perhaps, maybe, the problem is that the people who run Special Ed. are making over $100,000 to try to pull ever trick to deny services to your child and to see if the parents have studied every law in NJ regarding Special Ed to see what the Sp. Ed. department can get away with. Oh, and, lie to your face in attempting to deny services – true story. (Ok, that isn’t the full problem but it is part of it, and it is an example of the nonsense and BS that goes on in the schools, but yet we are still expected to keep paying.

Comments are closed.