Teacher Salary Increases Continue To Decline

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TRENTON—Teacher salary settlement rates are continuing their downward trend, with the 83 contracts negotiated since January providing average raises of 1.91 percent for 2010-2011, the New Jersey School Boards Association reported this week. In mid-August, NJSBA reported that salary increases in 73 districts that reached agreement since the first of the year averaged 2.03 percent.

Out of 586 local school districts and educational services commissions, 431 have teacher contracts in place for 2010-2011, while 155 are still in negotiations. (The 155 districts still in negotiations include 125 where the previous contracts expired June 30, 2010, and 30 school districts in which former agreements expired the previous year.) At this time last year, 141 school boards were still negotiating with their teacher unions as school began.

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NJSBA’s reported settlement rates reflect total salary increases, including the incremental (or step) raises provided for an additional year of experience. They do not reflect changes in benefit levels, including the recently required 1.5 percent-of-salary employee contribution to health insurance coverage.

The latest settlement rates are the lowest since NJSBA began collecting data 30 years ago, according to Association officials. The rates are affected by 43 contracts in which teachers agreed to a wage freeze for 2010-2011.

No impact on school opening Parents and students should not be alarmed by the number of unsettled contracts, according to Marie S. Bilik, NJSBA executive director.

“It’s not unusual for more than 100 school districts to begin classes with the school board and teachers union still in negotiations,” she said. “The status of negotiations should not affect the opening of school. That’s because teachers in New Jersey never work ‘without a contract.’ All of the salary, benefits and protections of the previous contract remain in place until a new agreement is reached.”

Other issues In addition to salary, other issues at the bargaining table this year include:

  • Measures to control the cost of health insurance, such as increases in deductible and co-pay levels, changes in health care providers, and additional employee contributions toward health insurance costs.
  • Freezing stipends provided to teachers for work outside the classroom, such as operating clubs or sports.
  • Constructing salary guides to enable school boards to attract and retain new teachers and to reflect the current economy.
  • Controlling the cost of tuition reimbursement.

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