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Teachers union, BOE approve contract for Lawrence public schools

Teachers, guidance counselors and instructional assistants are in line to receive an annual salary increase of 3% under a new contract approved by the Lawrence Township Public Schools Board of Education.

The school board approved a five-year contract with the 580-member Lawrence Township Education Association last month. The contract starts July 1, 2020, and expires June 30, 2025.

The Lawrence Township Education Association also represents nurses, secretaries, child study team members, security monitors, librarians, library assistants, office assistants, athletic trainers, custodians, cleaners and maintenance workers.

The new contract is unusual because it is a five-year contract, school district officials said. Contracts between the school board and the union usually are for a three-year period. The school board approved a four-year contract in 2018 with the union that represents principals, assistant principals, supervisors and the athletic director.

School board President Kevin Van Hise said the school board was pleased to have reached a settlement with the Lawrence Township Education Association. The process was collaborative, professional and fair, he said.

Superintendent of Schools Ross Kasun also praised the Lawrence Township Education Association for working collaboratively to reach an agreement that was fair to the teachers and the public, and that benefits the community.

“During these challenging times of our school closure due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, this settlement is a welcomed ‘positive.’ It will contribute to moving our district forward for years to come,” Kasun said.

Braulio Borlaza, the Lawrence Township Education Association president, praised school district officials for reaching an agreement with the union.

“We are confident that the agreement reached is beneficial to all stakeholders. We are appreciative of the school board’s willingness to engage in a process that supports children and families as well as staff,” Borlaza said.

In the first year of the contract, a teacher with a freshly-minted bachelor’s degree will earn $56,744. By the fifth year of the contract, the starting salary for a newly-minted teacher would be $63,386.

The most experienced teachers – those who hold a master’s degree and 30 additional credits, and who have taught for at least 20 years – would earn $94,586 in the first year of the contract. They would earn $98,186 in the fifth year of the contract.

Library assistants will earn $31.65 per hour in the first year of the contract, and $35.62 in the fifth year of the contract.

Instructional assistants and security monitors will be paid $27.76 per hour in the first year of the contract, and $31.24 in the final year of the contract.

Contract negotiations began in November 2019, and a memorandum of agreement was signed by Van Hise and Borlaza in February 2020.


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