Teachers Contract Settled With Montville BOE
Montville teachers will received 2.5 percent increase this year, but agreed on health plan that will significantly save district money.
After more than a year of negotiating, the Montville Township Board of Education voted to ratify a new contract with the Montville Township Education Association (MTEA) Tuesday night.
The contract, of which the actual document is still being finalized, is the first in the district's history which combines teachers, custodial and maintenance employees and paraprofessionals.
"This result was a long time coming," Board Vice President Dr. Matthew Kayne, who helped lead the negotiations on part of the board, said.
The previous contract expired on June 30, 2011. Under the new contract, Kayne said employees agreed to have salaries frozen for the time period covering July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012. The employees will, however, see salary increases for the years beginning July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2015 with a 2.5 percent raise the first year, 2 percent raise the second year and a 3 percent raise the third year.
Despite the salary increases, Board Member Michael Palma said it is important for the public to know that the MTEA also agreed to go with a state insurance plan that will save the school district a significant amount of money, close to $1 million this year alone. Kayne also said the parties agreed to a simplified bereavement plan. Negotiations spanned 13 meetings, often with more than 25 people in the room, Kayne said.
"Ultimately, we sought the assistance of a mediator. Ultimately we were able to work things out," he said.
Board President Dr. Karen Cortellino said she was proud of both parties and the way they handled negotiations.
"Negotiations were always friendly," she said.
Kayne also thanked the professionals who negotiated for the board for their "perserverance and willingness." He specifically noted Kathy Klein, a Cedar Hill School teacher who was one of the lead negotiators on behalf of the MTEA.
"We developed a true working relationship. Ultimately it was full of respect and trust," Kayne said.
Klein spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting and thanked Kayne and board members for working with her during the process.
"I just wanted to thank Matt Kayne for having the ability to have a respectful conversation when the topic was never enjoyable," Klein said.
Klein described the new contract as a "great step forward for our district," and said the actions of the board members in voting to move forward with ratification was symbolic of how the district values its employees.
"You have shown great loyalty to me and therefore you have shown great loyalty to your employees," she said.
Other board members were happy to hear that the negotiations process was coming to a close.
"I'm glad it's over. I think we reached a wonderful agreement on both sides," Jackie Ritschel said.