Details of Impasse Between the Montclair BoE and Montclair Education Association

BY  |  Monday, Feb 25, 2013 4:09pm

Montclair BoE and Teacher's Union On Friday we reported that the Montclair Board of Education filed a “Notice of Impasse” on February 21, 2013 between itself and the Montclair Education Association (MEA) after contract negotiations stalled. Today we obtained a copy of the BoE’s February 7, 2013 “Counter Offer #5″—which according to the Notice of Impasse was the BoE’s “Last Best Offer.” We also obtained a copy of the MEA’s February 20, 2013 “Counter Offer.”

There are seven terms of the contract between the BoE and MEA that cannot be agreed upon.

Here are the Montclair BoE’s offers and the MEA’s counter offers:

BoE: Salary adjustment of 2.8 percent in 2012-2013, 2.6 percent  in 2013-2014, and 2.4 percent for 2014-2015 inclusive if increment.
MEA: Salary adjustment of 3.0 percent in 2012-2013, 2.9 percent  in 2013-2014, and 2.8 percent for 2014-2015 inclusive if increment.


BoE: All High School teachers will teach 5 periods and will not be assigned a duty/supervision period allowing teachers the necessary time to plan and review assessment data in order to inform and improve instruction  teachers of ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies required to meet the new more rigorous Common Core State Standards will have class size limited to 24 students. Teachers may volunteer and be scheduled to teach additional students (class size of 25 or more), subject to the approval of the Principal. Each teacher will receive a stipend of $1,000 for each class that has over 24 students with a total instructional cap of 150 students (over five periods).
MEA: The MEA considers point 2 contingent upon further revision of contract language to reflect greater specifics on implementation.


BoE: Eliminate consecutive period provision to allow for scheduling  flexibility. School/Teacher schedules shall be determined by building level. The principal shall present a plan for discussion and consideration by staff, which shall require approval by 75 percent of staff for implementation.
MEA: High School and Middle School Teacher schedules shall be determined at the building level. The principal shall present a scheduling plan for discussion and consideration by staff no later than April of the previous school year, which shall require approval by 75 percent of the staff for implementation. If 75 percent staff approval is not given, High School teachers shall not be scheduled to instruct more than 3 classes or 2 double period classes consecutively. If 75 percent staff approval is not given, Middle School Teachers shall not be scheduled to instruct more than 4 classes or 2 double period classes consecutively. This provision applies only to classes that meet on a daily basis and exceptions are permitted at both High School and Middle Schools with Teacher approval.


BoE: Add two additional professional days for teaching staff, and 3 professional development days for teaching assistants. The additional days shall be phased in as follows:
a) Year 1 (2012-13): no change
b) Year 2 (2013-14): 1 additional teacher PD day shall be added; and 8 hours of paid PD for teaching assistants (in two 4-hour increments)
c) Year 3 (2014-15): 2 additional teacher PD days, and 16 hours of paid PD for teaching assistants in 4-hour increments
MEA: Add two additional professional days for teaching staff, and two professional development days for teaching assistant, over the school years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. The additional days shall be phased in as follows:
a) 2012-2013 School year: no additional days
b) 2013-2014 School Year: One additional professional development day for teachers is added within the contractual school year and six consecutive hours of paid professional development for teaching assistants is added within the contractual school year.
c) 2014-2015 School Year: One additional professional development day for teachers is added within the contractual school year and six consecutive hours of paid professional development for teaching assistants is added within the contractual school year.


BoE: Return Aides health benefits as follows: full POS coverage for those hired prior to 6/30/11. Those who elect to enroll will have their salaries deducted by up to $3,000 per year (at the same contribution level set forth in the Side Bar)
MEA: Return Teacher Assistants Health Benefits as follows: Full POS coverage for those Teaching Assistants hired prior to June 30, 2011. those Teaching Assistants who elect to enroll will have their salaries deducted by up to $3,000 per year at the same contribution level set forth in the Side Bar Agreement, dated march 28,2011)


BoE: Revise PPO and POS plan components to account for $500,000 in savings beginning in 13/14 school year and an additional $500,000 in savings effective the 14/15 school year.
MEA: Revise PPO and POS plans to increase the Emergency Room co-payments to $50. The Montclair Education Association requests the Montclair Board of Education allocate funds that are available through breakage for any additional monies necessary.


BoE: Effective 7/1/2012 the definition of full-time status for all MEA members shall be a workweek of 32 hours or more. All employees who are receiving health benefits as of 7/1/2012 that do not meet this definition and the Teacher Assistants employed on or before June 30, 2011 that elect to enroll under Exhibit A) shall be grandfathered for the duration of their employment.
MEA: Section 7.3(b): Full Time Work Week shall remain as current contract language states, a minimum of 20 hours per week.


After the BoE filed the Notice of Impasse, the MEA stated on its website that members will begin “working to contract” on Tuesday, February 26 until further notice. On February 23rd, the MEA posted a  request to its members to “calculate volunteer hours.”

In an effort to demonstrate the countless hours that MEA association members volunteer in the Montclair Public School District, we are asking each MEA member to compile a list of activities that are performed by MEA members beyond contract time and without compensation from September 2012, to the present. Volunteer time is not compensated by salary or stipend.

Please have this information available and sent to your building representative by the end of school day on Tuesday, February 26, 2013.

The Board of Education meeting will be held tonight,  Monday, February 25 at 7 pm at the George Inness Annex, 114 Park Street, MHS. Montclair TV34 will also air the meeting at 7:30 pm on UStream.


  1. POSTED BY tallahassee  |  February 25, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

    Tonight’s meeting should be interesting.

    I hope the teachers don’t calculate their volunteer hours during work hours.

  2. POSTED BY sohobound  |  February 25, 2013 @ 5:13 pm

    Thank you Barista for showing us what is behind the current.

    “TWENTY HOURS minimum being considered full time” that is incredulous by any standard. No wonder there isn’t a supply and demand issue for teachers. We all know the issue is quality teachers, but that’s a whole other can of worms….

    “The Montclair Education Association requests the Montclair Board of Education allocate funds that are available through breakage for any additional monies necessary.” Does anyone know what “….breakage for any additional monies necessary” means?

  3. POSTED BY bluemarble  |  February 25, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

    Soho- I think the full time work week reference for 20 hours is about being eligible for health insurance benefits, and(I hope) not about salary etc. At my workplace, we become eligible for insurance at 25 hours.

    On the 5 classes issue: I can’t imagine high school English teachers are going to be giving out too many complex writing assignments if they have to grade 120+ papers every time.

  4. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  February 25, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

    Thank you Baristanet for providing this information to parents and the public. It would seem that the two sides are not so far apart as to require a “notice of impasse.” Strong-arm tactics are rarely successful and usually lead to escalations of conflicts, rather than resolutions. The “working to contract” was a foreseeable consequence of the BOE’s failure to fairly negotiate.

  5. POSTED BY walleroo  |  February 25, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

    I tried to read this, Georgette, I really did.

  6. POSTED BY oliver  |  February 25, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

    “MEA: Section 7.3(b): Full Time Work Week shall remain as current contract language states, a minimum of 20 hours per week.”

    Tell me I’m misunderstanding this; 20 hrs/wk = full-time work week???

  7. POSTED BY oliver  |  February 25, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

    Oh, and I think I have the answer to the “breakage” reference–you know when you have a $100 gift card and you only redeeem $89 of it, and forget about the rest? The other $11 is called breakage, money that the company issuing the gift card effectively gets to keep.

    I assume in this context the breakage is money the BOE has allocated for health care that doesn’t get used in that year…or something like that. So the surplus (remember those budget surpluses?) could fund what the MEA is asking for.

  8. POSTED BY mcinmtc  |  February 25, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

    Thank you, Baristanet, for the information. It gives public school families and Montclair residents more clarity on the issues. Based on the offers/counter offers outlined above, it is clear that the sides are close. Your further reporting on examples and context is appreciated. E.g., how do 2.8%, 2.6%, 2.4% increases compare to all NJ districts? How would a $500k savings (cost shifting?) in the health plan impact teachers — higher contributions? increased co-pays? By how much? How many other districts use the 20 hours/week as the baseline for full-time employment status? Is it outside the norm to require high teachers to teach 5 out of 8 periods/day? Is the bonus for larger class sizes a trend and does was it suggested to allow for any further scheduling flexibility at MHS? Most most of all is it educationally sound? All your efforts are appreciated.

  9. POSTED BY yougottalovehim  |  February 25, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

    Always amazes me how people get their hackles up about collective bargaining. Granted this concerns our kids, but this is how the process is supposed to work. Both sides dig in their heels and bang their heads together. Neither side gets 100% of what they want but accept a compromise. I’ve never belonged to a union in my life, but these guys are doing what they are supposed to do. Trying to get the best deal for their people.

  10. POSTED BY justacitizen  |  February 25, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

    Does anyone know the difference between “aides” “and teaching assistants”? It is hard to tell how far apart the two sides are on that point. Otherwise, it seems that the third point (class scheduling) and the benefits (as always on these types of negotiations) points are the real sticklers.

  11. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  February 25, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

    According to New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA): The average teacher raise for 2012-2013 is 2.42 percent.

    More than a third (38 percent) of districts report settlements at 2 percent or lower for this current school year. In 2011-2012, the average settlement rate was 3.19 percent.

    “Teacher contracts in New Jersey typically last for three years. Recently settled 2012-2013 contracts (agreements reached since July 1 of last year) show average raises of 2.36 percent – lower than the settlement rate for all 2012-2013 contracts.”

  12. POSTED BY iteachthereforeiam  |  February 26, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

    let’s get a few things straight – it’s important that no matter how you feel about the offers or “who’s right” that we know what is underneath some of the numbers, just fo rthe sake of clarity…a “raise” of say 2.6% does not mean everyone gets a raise of 2.6% – it’s a total contract-wide raise of 2.6% and then the BOE & MEA teams decide how to spread that out among the various steps in the salary guide…also, anyone’s individual raise is “minus” what the difference between their salary and what they would have made at the next step anyway- for example – a scenario: teacher X makes $50,000 at “step 8” of a contract and the next step on the guide, “step 9” is $52,000; then a new contract is signed, and “step 9” for the following year is $53,000; teacher X comes back in the fall and is making $53,000 – her raise is not $3,000, it’s $1,000 (a raise of about 1.9% on the $52,000). Now teacher X, by law, has to pay 1.5% of her $53,000 salary ($795) into her health benefits, making her pay now $52,205, a raise of $205 (.39%) on the $52,000 she was set to make….so any “raise” needs through this prism – i.e. you can say workers don’t deserve a raise or that they SHOULD chip in to their benefits, but i’m just saying you need to say that knowing what “raise” means….as for aides and benefits – it’s a complete ruse…setting aside for now the fact that the BOE only offered it to people already working as of 6/30/11, they combined the reinstatement of benefits in their offer with an adjustment of the definition of “full-time” to 32 hours, so they will just keep everyone at 30 hours and no one gets the benefits they so magnanimously offered — it’s an offer they have no intention of fulfilling, but t makes them look good to the uninitiated…and one last thing: if you are not conversant in education practices, and if you are not used to bargaining contexts, you would not realize that A LOT of the language in the BOE offers is incredibly vague and to agree to it w/o any further fleshing out would be ludicrous…and actually, all this shouldn’t even be a conversation because this should not have been leaked to bartistanet… i imagine the leak was from the BOE to try to cause division in the union and to move/re-frame the discourse around the negotiations…

  13. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  February 26, 2013 @ 1:53 pm


    There was no “leak” of this information. Barista Kids obtained the documents through filing an OPRA request.

  14. POSTED BY iteachthereforeiam  |  February 26, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

    ok – i did not know that – i did not know such information was subject to OPRA while negotiations were still active…. thank you for c;arifying

  15. POSTED BY lemons  |  February 27, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    I was interested to read the post re: the STEP and how the raise is not a full 2.6% in that setting. Looking at the contract and looking at page 37 for the yr 2009-10 It appears that they take into account the steps and the increases. if I am wrong someone correct me, maybe the PROFESSOR can comment as he does appear to read bw the lines! If this new contract forgoes this method than its moot.

    SO here are the increases as I read it bw step 8=$53,785 9=$54,671 10=$56,005 if you look at the contract it tells you to use the old step from 9 to 10 so now your salary is 56,005 and THEN YOU GET TO MOVE TO THE NEW CHART OF THE NEW CONTRACT which jumps you up to a salary of 57,366. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Also, I appreciate that many teachers still want to help our kids and they are continuing to go above and beyond despite being “bullied” and I do believe some teachers are. I feel that many teachers were unaware of what had been negotiated to date as some spoke of the loss of aides benefits only to realize late in the meeting that they had in fact been put back into the contract. I know of one person who was truly embarassed that they spoke to the issue. My hope is that the MEA gives ALL the details to the teachers so they can make the decisions together as opposed to only those at the top!!

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