HILLSBOROUGH: Teachers’ contract tentatively agreed upon by school district, local union

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Supporters of the Hillsborough Education Association rallied outside the Board of Education's office during the most recent negotiation hearings on Aug. 31.

By Andrew Martins, Managing Editor
Months of back and forth negotiations between the Hillsborough Township Board of Education and local teachers’ union will soon come to a head, as both parties announce they have reached a tentative agreement on a contract.
At the Oct. 10 school board meeting, board President Thomas Kinst read off a joint statement with the Hillsborough Education Association announcing the breakthrough and outlining the steps moving forward.
“The tentative agreement was reached at a negotiations session between the parties on Oct. 4 that continued into Oct. 5,” Mr. Kinst said. “The agreement is subject to document preparation and ratification of the contract by both parties.”
Representatives from both parties have been working since January to craft a new three-year contract for the district’s teachers and staff. Currently, district employees are working under the previous contract, complete with all existing terms and conditions, guarantees of salary and benefits.
Negotiations had endured a number of hurdles for both sides, officials said, with the main sticking points being salary percentages and proposed health care contributions.
Earlier this year, the Public Employment Relations Commission appointed a mediator to oversee negotiations once both sides were unable to reach an agreement by the May 31 deadline. According to officials, the new three-year contract will cover the period of July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2019.
HEA President Henry Goodhue said he was proud of the efforts that the union’s negotiations put into securing a new contract.
“I am very happy with the outcome,” he said. “This could not be done without the work of our skilled negotiation team.”
The HEA represents teaching staff, instructional and other aides, maintenance and custodians, and secretaries for the more than 7,000-student district.
Though details surrounding the tentative contract are being withheld until it is ratified in the coming weeks, a source close to the negotiation process last month outlined a handful of terms that were potentially agreed upon, such as clarifications of the school calendar and definitions of additional instructional payments.
Other items included establishing stipends for various district employees and increases to accumulated sick leave. Whether those provisions will remain in the final version of the contract remains to be seen.
What officials confirmed to be in the agreement is the establishment of a new salary guide.
Superintendent Dr. Jorden Schiff said he looks forward to the ratification of the contract in “the next few weeks.”
“Both sides stayed up multiple times past 2 o’clock in the morning and at one time, 3 o’clock in the morning,” Dr. Schiff said. “I know that our members, teachers, support staff, board and our community appreciate the tireless efforts that both negotiating teams made in order to get this tentative agreement.”