Hillsborough school board and teachers unable to reach contract settlement

Talks between the Hillsborough Township Board of Education and the Hillsborough Education Association remain at a standstill after a contract settlement was not settled earlier this month.

Hillsborough school board officials made that announcement of the staled talks on April 8.

After six meetings of direct negotiations over the last five months, school board officials said that the parties have been attempting to reach a voluntary agreement.

Officials said the negotiations hindered over multiple topics such as salary increases, longevity, employee health insurance contributions, restructuring of the existing work year to allow for additional teacher training and student orientation, the workday scheduled for part-time staff and tuition reimbursement.

According to a released statement from the school board, officials will continue to work to coming to an agreement in an effort to overcome financial obstacles at hand in the negotiations.

“The board is committed to maintaining a quality educational program and competitive salaries and benefits in Hillsborough Township at a cost it can afford in light of the serious financial challenges it is facing for the 2019-20 school year and beyond,” the statement said.

Officials reported that the board has offered competitive salary increases in consideration for the contract changes it is seeking. The association declared an impasse and has requested the appointment of a mediator by the Public Employment Relations Commission.

According to the board, the function of the mediator is aimed to assist all parties to come to a voluntary agreement. Officials explained that a mediator may hold separate or joint conferences as he or she deems expedient to effect a voluntary amicable and expeditious adjustment and settlement of the differences and issues between parties.

“As this process moves to mediation, the board is committed to working cooperatively with the association and, with the assistance of the mediator, it is hopeful that a voluntary settlement can be reached before the new school year begins,” school board officials said.

In the absence of an agreement between the parties, officials explained that the mediator, at any time after appointment, may recommend to the Director of Conciliation that fact-finding procedures should be invoked.

During this time and until a successor agreement is reached, officials said that the district’s employees maintain their current salaries and benefits under the terms of their prior agreement that will expire on June 30.