THE TOP STORIES OF 2015: Teachers contract gets settled

Princeton schools logo 6/11/15

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Day after day turned into month after month in a contract stalemate between the Princeton Board of Education and the teachers union that finally ended in 2015.
The four-year deal, providing raises of about 2.6 percent, brought closure to a dispute that revolved around salaries and benefits. For an issue otherwise handled in closed-door negotiations, it was a public spat that saw teachers packing school board meetings through the year, unhappy and unappreciated.
They and their supporters urged officials to reach a fair agreement with their union, the roughly 370-member Princeton Regional Education Association.
“The board has not drawn a line in the sand, nor does it intend to, beyond which it refuses to budge,” school board President Andrea Spalla said at a board meeting in March. “Probably, there will be a resolution that doesn’t look exactly like what either party currently has on the table. That is the nature of bargaining and compromise.”
But as the talks dragged out, students in the district grew frustrated. At Princeton High School, they walked out of classes in April and stood outside the building in a show of solidarity with their teachers.
“They have our support,” said Maddie Deutsch, one of an estimated 400 students to join the demonstration.
“I applaud the PHS students for choosing a peaceful, nonviolent demonstration to make their views known,” union president Joanne Ryan said at the time. The union and the school board plugged away.
In June, they had a 17-hour negotiation session that was followed by another session that lasted some 12 hours.
“We will know by early next week whether we will have an agreement to take to our members for ratification before the end of the school year,” said high school teacher John Baxter, the union’s lead negotiator, in June. “We are very close, however, and work continues.”
Toward the end of the month, the two sides announced they had reached a deal.
“We are eager to move forward together to provide the very best educational experiences for our community’s children, said Ms. Spalla and Ms. Ryan in a joint statement issued June 25. 

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