Two sides will go to fact-finding level in talks

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By PETER ELACQUA
Staff Writer

COLTS NECK – A recent mediation session that involved representatives of the Colts Neck K-8 School District Board of Education and the Colts Neck Township Education Association (CNTEA) failed to produce a new contract for the district’s teachers.

At a school board meeting on Dec. 16, board member Kathryn Gizzo, who chairs the Finance and Negotiations Committee, reported that the mediation session did not bridge the gap on a new deal.

Gizzo said the next step in the process will be fact-finding — having an outside party determine what facts are relevant to the negotiations.

She said representatives of the board and the union expect to meet with the fact-finder in February. The costs associated with that step of negotiations will be split between the board and the union.

CNTEA President Jeff Pringle said, “I am a little disappointed we could not reach an agreement (during mediation). My hopes are that when we go to fact-finding, we can reach an agreement that benefits everybody.”

According to Pringle, the board’s previous contract with the union was an agreement that was in effect from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2015.

The union’s members are working under the terms of that expired contract.

Pringle said that under the previous contract, there was a 2 percent salary increase for 2012-13, a 3 percent salary increase for 2013-14 and a 3 percent salary increase for 2014-15.

He said that contract also provided a 2 percent salary increase for the 2011-12 school year, when the teachers worked under the terms of an expired contract.

The annual percentage increases represent the increase in the total amount of money that was paid to the district’s teachers and not the annual percentage increase an individual teacher may have received in her salary during the years covered by the contract.

According to information posted on the school district’s website, effective July 1, 2015, health insurance premium costs increased by 15 percent ($477,000) from 2014.

The board’s representatives have proposed increasing the union’s co-pays as a way to generate savings. The current copays are $5 for an office visit, $25 for an emergency room visit and $0 for ambulatory and outpatient surgery and an inpatient hospital stay.

All proposed increases would generate savings that would be shared among union members and the district, with the union’s share of the savings estimated at up to 30 percent, according to the board.

— Contact Peter Elacqua at [email protected]

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