FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Dr. Ernest Palestis, Interim Superintendent of Schools Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District Board of Education
Oakland, March 27, 2014
The Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District Board of Education and the Ramapo Indian Hills Education Association were unable to reach a contract settlement following three mediation sessions with a State-appointed mediator. This followed approximately ten months of contract negotiations between the parties. The Association’s contract expired on June 30, 2013. As a result of the continued impasse, the State-appointed mediator invoked fact-finding.
The negotiations have stalled on the issues of salary, the employees’ request to reduce their statutorily required health care contributions, and the Board's request for accountability of the time required for compensating teachers who supervise extracurricular activities.
The Board proposed a 3-year agreement with cumulative salary increases that exceed the Bergen County 3 year average settlements, increases in extracurricular stipends, salary adjustments for supplemental teachers which place them on the teachers' salary guides for the first time and allow them substantial increases in their future earnings, and retroactive longevity increases for employees. The Board also agreed to the Association's requests to clarify existing contract language governing vacation leave for administrative assistants and to extend employee safety protection to all employees. Finally, the Board proposed a change in the prescription drug program to provide the employees a stand alone plan without any cap on the reimbursement level in consideration for the elimination of major medical prescription reimbursement. This change will enhance the present prescription plan and result in substantial savings to the Board and the employees.
The Association rejected the Board’s proposal and is seeking salary increases of more than 9% over 3 years and/or a reduction in their statutorily required health care contributions, as well as all of the other the monetary concessions that the Board has offered. It also has been unwilling to consider any proposal that requires Association members to be accountable for extracurricular stipends.
The Board has offered a highly competitive salary and benefits package for all teachers, supplemental teachers, administrative assistants, technical assistants, instructional aides, custodians and security aides within the financial constraints imposed by the 2% tax levy cap and its ability to maintain the District's outstanding educational, athletic and extracurricular programs.
The State will now appoint a fact-finder who shall schedule a formal hearing, at which time the Board and the Association will submit their final proposals and evidence to support the reasonableness of their last offers. It is anticipated that the selection, appointment and scheduling of a hearing by the fact-finder will take several months and may extend into the next school year. 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.
The Board remains willing to meet with the Association at any time in an effort to settle this contract dispute before the process moves on to fact finding.
By: The Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District Board of Education
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