South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education Approves Agreement With SOMEA

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 1:30pm

After more than two years of negotiations, the South Orange – Maplewood Board of Education and the South Orange-Maplewood Education Association have come to an agreement. The contract covers salaries and benefits for all teachers and other staff members except administrators.

Some of the terms of agreement are outlined on the district’s website:

The agreement covers the years 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. For 2009-2010, SOMEA members who were at the top of the guide and did not receive an incremental step increase will receive a salary increase of $1,200. For 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13, SOMEA members will receive a 2.5 percent annual salary increase, inclusive of increments. The agreement includes a revised salary guide that increases starting salaries, provides larger raises than previous agreements for staff members in their early years of employment and eliminates outsized step increases.

Under state law, all district staff must pay 1.5 percent of their salary towards healthcare premiums. Pursuant to the SOMEA agreement, beginning in January 2012, the district will provide NJ Direct 15 health coverage instead of the more costly NJ Direct 10. Employees, however, may pay to upgrade their coverage. All newly hired employees will automatically be enrolled in the NJ Direct 15 program. All healthcare premiums paid by employees will be paid with pretax dollars.

Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, the district, in partnership with SOMEA, will implement a revised teacher evaluation process, which will include formal classroom observations of non-tenured teachers, including an observation without prior notification.

In support of the National Board Certification Program, the district agreed to continue to pay the full cost of all fees and related district-approved activities not subsidized by the state or federal governments. The district also agreed to assist and support National Board Certification candidates with materials and equipment such as district-owned video cameras, editing equipment and computers. Upon receipt of the Certification, a teacher will receive a $1,500 non-pensionable stipend each year for the life of his/her certificate. In exchange for this support, candidates will be asked to continue working in the district for two years following certification.

Pursuant to the contract, elementary school teachers are to conduct six days of parent-teacher conferences, three in the fall and three in the spring. Two of the conferences in the fall and two in the spring will be held in the afternoons, while the remaining two, one in the fall and one in the spring, will be held in the evening between 6 and 9 p.m. Students will be dismissed after a four-hour day on all six conference days.

The agreement establishes three days for possible closings due to inclement weather. On May 1, of each year, however, the Board may consider “giving back” two days, assuming the days are not needed for weather-related closings.

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And we can get this project completed in time for Montclair's sesquicentennial when we can stick a fork into historic preservation as a public policy.

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