Published December 28, 2012, 07:40 AM 3 officers hurt, gunman killed in shooting at New Jersey police station Three officers have been injured and the gunman killed in a shooting Friday at a police station in southern New Jersey. By: Associated … Continue reading
NEWARK — In a landmark vote, the Newark Teachers Union on Wednesday ratified the state’s first teacher contract to provide bonus pay based on classroom performance.
The three-year deal, which awards merit pay to teachers who earn a rating of “highly effective,” was approved, 1,767-1,088, with almost 62 percent of those who voted supporting it. More than 2,800 of the nearly 4,700 union members turned out at union headquarters on Broad Street in Newark throughout the day to cast ballots.
The contract, which sparked strong opinions on both sides, will be the first in the state and one of the first in the nation to base teacher pay on classroom performance, including student progress.
Union President Joseph Del Grosso called it “a step in the right direction for the teaching profession.
“I’m happy. We’re finally going to have a say in our own destiny … how we’re evaluated. It’s the start of us getting back control of our profession,” he said minutes after the votes were counted.
“I believe we have taken a huge step toward raising student achievement,” Superintendent Cami Anderson said in a statement. “I am thrilled for our teachers here in Newark and for the teaching profession as a whole.”
The vote was originally scheduled for Oct. 29, but was delayed because of Hurricane Sandy.
The contract uses the new four-tier teacher rating system being ushered in across the state. It includes a 13.9 percent salary increase over three years for those rated “effective,” with additional merit bonuses for those rated “highly effective.” Teachers who are rated as highly effective, who work in one of the city’s lowest-performing schools and who teach a hard-to-staff subject, could earn as much as $12,500 per year in incentive pay.
Teachers would also have a say in the review process.
The contract will cost the district $100 million, half of which will come from private donors, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. It also includes retroactive pay; the union had been working without a contract for two years.
A steady flow of teachers, aides and other union members lined up at the storefront union office to vote. A big rush came about 3:15 p.m., after school had ended for the day.
Opinions on the contract were split.
Kerry Beese, a master teacher who works with preschool teachers, said she voted for the contract even though it does not include a provision for master teachers to earn merit pay.
“I’m not happy with it, but with the economy, it’s probably the best we can get,” she said.
Teacher aide Myrna Aviles, who works at Barringer High School, said she also supported it. “The contract right now is what we have,” she said.
Laura Ferreira, a third grade teacher, said she believes merit bonuses will be impossible to attain and the contract will set a bad precedent. “It’s going to be so difficult you’re never going to see the bonuses,” she said.
Special education teacher Erica Green agreed. “It’s going to be hard as heck to attain ‘effective,’ ” she said. “And I’ve been a teacher for 14 years. A hardworking teacher.”
The American Federation of Teachers, the Newark union’s national affiliate, praised the contract.
“This agreement ensures that teacher voice, quality and experience are aligned with increased professionalism and better compensation,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement.
Gov. Chris Christie in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this morning touted the signing of a landmark Newark Teachers Union contract .
The three-year deal, approved this week by about 60 percent of the membership, will be the first in the state and one of the first in the nation to base teacher pay on classroom performance, including student progress.
“It’s no longer just seniority or degrees received, but now it’s how you perform in the classroom and that evaluation is not just done by the administration it’s done by teachers who are involved as well,” Christie said during the 14-minute spot. “I think it’s going to improve the quality of education across the City of Newark.”
Christie appeared alongside American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and also praised the contributions of Newark Teachers Union President Joseph Del Grosso and Superintendent Cami Anderson.
“Every time we had a problem at the table, it was about what is going to work for the kids of Newark,” Weingarten said, adding that the chance to earn $5,000 bonuses is one of several changes in the new contract.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million grant two years ago leveraged giving that will pay for the bonuses, Christie said.
The Newark Teachers Union, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, represents some 3,300 teachers. Christie’s rapport with Weingarten is a departure from the contentious battles he has waged with the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, which represents about 120,000 teachers.
Christie and Weingarten, along with Anderson and Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, later this morning will hold a news conference about the contract at Speedway School on South Orange Avenue in Newark.
The membership of the Newark Teachers Union Wednesday night voted to accept a new contract that will make the city the first school district in the state to offer teachers bonus pay based on student performance.
“The vote to ratify the Newark Teacher’s Union contract is a win for teachers and unions. I salute my colleagues, all of whom had the courage to challenge the status quo and stand up for what’s best for our profession – and for our students,” Joe DelGrosso, the president of the NTU, said in a statement. “We are here to serve and I look forward to working with all of our teaching professionals on this historic contract as we embark upon a new era for public education in Newark.”
“Congratulations to the teachers, parent coordinators, teacher’s aides, child study teams, and paraprofessionals who will benefit from the success of this contract, and especially to the students and families of Newark. We invested a tremendous amount of time and thought to these negotiations,” Superintendent Cami Anderson said in a statement.
“There was an incredibly talented team around the table and I believe that we have taken a huge step towards raising student achievement. This contract sets the stage for even more dramatic progress and I am invigorated for the implementation phase of our systemic transformation of education in Newark. As a lifelong educator, I am thrilled for our teachers here in Newark and for the teaching profession as a whole.”
A district spokesperson said about 2,800 staff took part in the vote, which was held throughout the day and into the evening, with more than 60 percent voting in favor of the contract.
The agreement — which previously had won the support of officials in Trenton
— will be in effect until June 30, 2015.
The contract also calls for peer review of teachers, a universal salary scale, as well as some retroactive pay for teachers who were on the payroll when the last contract expired July 1, 2010.
In addition, teachers rated “highly effective” will be eligible for up to $12,500 annually in bonus pay, including up to $5,000 for top-rated teachers in schools performing in the district’s bottom 25 percent. Teachers rated “partially effective” or “ineffective” will not be entitled to an increase.
The cash for performance bonuses will come from a $100 million fund — half of which consists of public resources and half from private philanthropy — paid out over the course of three years. Much of the cash will come from Foundation for Newark’s Future, a group overseeing a $100 million donation Newark received from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a few years ago.
The nation’s 44,000 newly unionized airport screeners have ratified their first-ever collective bargaining agreement, giving them more say in what they wear on the job, the shifts they work and the time off they take, whether they can change from part-time to full-time work or back, their union announced today.
The American Federation of Government Employees union, which won the right to represent the screeners in an election last year, said its members voted 17,326 to 1,774 in favor of ratifying the first labor deal struck with the Transportation Security Administration since the agency was founded 10 years ago in the wake of 9/11. read more…
A Franklin Lakes principal who unexpectedly “resigned” last August is going on the offensive to get his job back.
A lawsuit was filed with Bergen County Superior Court on Friday, Oct. 26, on behalf of former Woodside Avenue School Principal Dominick Rotante, who stepped down abruptly just weeks before the start of the school year in August.
In a statement released Sunday, Rotante said the end of his eight year career in Franklin Lakes was the result of a personal vendetta waged against him by Superintendent of Schools Frank Romano, who was hired by the school district in 2010.
“I achieved a record of excellence, one that I’m very proud of and one that was impeccable until the day Mr. Romano arrived with an agenda that included getting rid of me,” Rotante wrote.
Rotante believes Romano wanted sought to oust him because Rotante was a member of a previous hiring committee that had input into Romano’s failed attempt to become curriculum director years before he was offered the superintendent position the Franklin Lakes Board of Education.
“Mr. Romano did not inform the new board of his prior failed candidacy when he applied for the superintendent’s position but I did because I felt it was pertinent information. Clearly, the superintendent doesn’t see it that way,” Rotante wrote.
Rotante is seeking to void the separation agreements and obtain reinstatement with the Franklin Lakes School District.
Romano reached for comment Monday morning refused to answer any questions, but said, “The entirety of the November 4, 2012, press release is completely false.”
The Franklin Lakes Board of Education granted Rotante, principal at Woodside since 2004, a request for a ten-month personal leave to “tend to family matters” and accepted his resignation, School Superintendent Frank Romano said in August.
Romano spoke highly of Rotante back in August, but refused to go into details regarding the principal’s sudden resignation.
In his initial statement, Romano said that parents may be “frustrated over the information that they can’t have.”
Rotante’s Florham Park-based Attorney Rich Meisner confirmed on Monday that the suit had been filed with Bergen County Superior Court.
A copy of the separation agreement between the Franklin Lakes Board of Education and Rotante, obtained by Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch confirmed that both parties had hired attorneys during the initial process, and that Rotante would foreit all tenure and seniority and never work for the Franklin Lakes School District again.
The separation agreement is attached to this story.
Meisner said that the premise on which the separation agreement was based proved to be false, but wouldn’t provide further details.
At the heart of the controversy is a sealed grievance filed by the Franklin Lakes Education Association earlier this year.
An OPRA request for the documentation regarding the grievance was denied, but Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch obtained a copy of a June 29 letter allegedly sent to Woodside Avenue teachers by FLEA President Donna Luciano.
The letter, which is attatched to this story, has had its letterhead removed by the providing party, citing fear of reprisal by school administration.
In the letter details of the grievance are noted.
“FLEA filed a grievance against Dominick on Monday,” the letter states. “Some of the complaints against him are not keeping appointments, yelling and intimidation of staff, and not adhering to the district’s policies on observations and evaluations.”
Previous attempts to contact Luciano have gone unanswered.
ALEXANDRIA TWP. — A teachers’ union contract that gives 3% raises this school year and 2% raises each of the next two years was approved unanimously by the Delaware Valley High School Board of Education yesterday, Oct. 22.
After the vote, board President Ellen Gordon said the 3% was decided for this year because the board negotiated a move for union members to a health insurance plan with lower premiums.
She said the switch is yielding a “net savings” of $233,384 this year.
There were no other changes in the three-year deal, said Gordon.
Teachers, secretaries, custodians and instructional aides are members of the union. They received 2.6% raises in the 2011-12 school year, under the terms of a prior contract that expired on June 30. When it did, they started paying toward their health insurance benefits, per state requirements.
Members of the administrators union and non-union administrative employees saw 2% raises for the current school year.
Although details are currently remaining under wraps, the Bedminster Education Association is about to head into fact finding with the board of education for the teachers’ contract.
According to Bedminster Business Administrator Phil Acosta, the most recent contract ended June 30, 2011, and the two entities have been working on negotiations since then.
The next step, Acosta said, is fact-finding, although he is not sure exactly when that will begin.
Acosta said there are a number of issues that the union and the board of education are discussing for the contract, but he declined to name specifics.
Pat Palmeri and Cheryl Mitchell, co-presidents of the union, said that due to confidentiality issues, they cannot discuss the specifics of the negotiations until after the fact finding process is complete.
But with the second school year without a contract already in session, Acosta said everything seems to be going well in the school district.
“Morale seems to be good,” he said.
According to a report from the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger this week, a high school teacher who made headlines last year after allegedly making anti-gay comments on her Facebook page last year has resigned her job.
The teacher was suspended from her job last year, according to the Star-Ledger report.
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