By Matthew Sockol
FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – The Freehold Township K-8 School District Board of Education has approved a one-year contract with the union which represents the district’s non-supervisory employees.
On Nov. 15, board Vice President Jason Levy and board members Michael Amoroso, Kay Poklemba-Holtz, Michelle Lambert and Staci Triandafellos voted to approve a contract and salary guides with the Freehold Township Education Association (FTEA). The contract is valid from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017.
Board members Daniel DiBlasio, Edward Hudak and Jennifer Patten abstained due to personal conflicts, according to Amoroso, who chairs the personnel, policies and communications committee. Board President Christopher Marion was absent.
According to the contract, the FTEA is the exclusive union representative for all district employees who are not supervisors.
Specifically, the FTEA represents the district’s teachers, certified school nurses, guidance counselors, media specialists, social workers, learning disabilities/teacher consultants, psychologists, secretaries, office assistants, teacher assistants, occupational therapists, certified occupational therapist assistants, program coordinators, speech language specialists, physical therapists, educational interpreters for the deaf and board certified behavior analysts.
The district’s part- and full-time custodial, maintenance and grounds workers, excluding lead custodians, are represented by the FTEA’s Custodial, Maintenance and Grounds Unit. That unit has a separate contract which runs from July 6, 2016, through June 30, 2017.
According to district administrators, the total salary paid to FTEA members in 2015-16 was $34.5 million. The anticipated salary to be paid to FTEA members in 2016-17 is $35.6 million, an increase of 3.16 percent.
All members of the FTEA, except for teacher assistants, will receive a 2.88 percent increase in their base in salary in 2016-17. Teacher assistants will receive a 3.75 percent increase in their base salary, according to district administrators.
Administrators said not every FTEA member will receive the same total increase in salary. The total increase a union member receives is determined by where he or she is on the contract’s salary guide.
The anticipated 2016-17 FTEA salary assumes all the personnel that was in place at the time of the agreement. District administrators said the actual FTEA salary in 2016-17 will be lower than the anticipated amount as a result of positions being reduced due to budget issues.
According to district administrators, the agreement between the board and the union was dependent on the board achieving savings in health benefits before an agreement was made on salaries. Administrators said the FTEA agreed to about $2 million in health benefits savings.
The board’s approval of the 2016-17 contract follows the expiration of the previous union contract which was in place from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2016. The board agreed to a one-year deal due to constraints imposed by New Jersey’s health benefits contribution law, according to district administrators.