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Hillsborough school district officials provide update on contract negotiations with union

Hillsborough Township Public Schools District officials provided an update for the ongoing negotiations with the Hillsborough Education Association (HEA) to reach a contract settlement.

Hillsborough Township Public Schools Director of Human Resources Michael Callahan released a statement on behalf of the school district on Nov. 11, which detailed the current status of the contract negotiations with the HEA.

According to Callahan’s statement, school district and union officials have been unable to come to a compromise in the negotiations.

“The Hillsborough Township Board of Education and the Hillsborough Education Association were unable to reach a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract after meeting for nearly nine hours on Nov. 10,” Callahan’s statement read.

Judy Haas, president of the school board, released a statement as well to express her stance on the contract negotiations.

“We deeply value the contributions of our staff and we presented what we believe to be a fair settlement offer,” Haas’ statement read.

School district officials said that the Nov. 10 meeting was scheduled in an effort to avoid the delay and expense of a formal fact-finding hearing. Although officials reported that “significant progress” was made on multiple outstanding issues, and they “regrettably” could not reach an agreement on salary and the restructuring of tuition reimbursement.

“We are now awaiting a date from the fact finder,” district officials said.

The fact-finder has the authority to recommend the terms of a settlement to the parties. However, the recommended terms of settlement are not binding upon either party. The costs for the services of the fact-finder are the responsibility of both parties, according to district officials.

The update on the negotiations comes after approximately a year’s effort of meetings in an effort to reach a contract settlement. On Sept. 24, officials announced that the school board and HEA had yet to reach a contract settlement after conducting three “lengthy” mediation sessions with a state-appointed mediator. At the time, this decision followed approximately six meetings of direct negotiations over the last five months, according to district officials. The association’s contract expired on June 30.

Officials have said in previous statements that 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.

In a previous statement provided by Callahan this year, district officials said that the board attended the mediation session on Sept. 12 with the understanding that the HEA would be presenting a counterproposal for settlement.

According to district officials, the HEA did not present a counterproposal for the board’s consideration and as a result, the state-appointed mediator invoked fact-finding.

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