September Board of Education Meeting Statement

We are here to represent the Rockaway Borough Education Association. We have been working with an expired contract since June 30, 2012.Despite not having a current contract, our members have continued to provide all services to all of our students. We have given 100% to the children of Rockaway Borough and, for now, will continue providing uninterrupted services to the students of the district. We love working in the Rockaway Borough School District but it is important, though, to settle a new contract. Due to rising legislated changes in Chapter 78 of the health insurance laws, our members are required to pay increases towards the coverage that were once paid for by the Board. Our members continue to receive paychecks that contain less money each year after these deductions are removed. Our members made significant sacrifices during the last round of negotiations, three years ago. We agreed to a wage freeze and contributions towards our health insurance before the laws changed. We have worked hard to help make this district work well. But we must also work to see that this small district can attract and retain the most qualified personnel for the students of Rockaway Borough. For that reason, it is important to have salaries that remain equal to the surrounding districts. And currently we are not remaining competitive with those districts around us. We rank near the very bottom in all categories of employees. Our secretaries and our custodians rank in the bottom quarter of all Morris County districts. Our teachers are next to last in nearly all salary categories – beginning salary, average salary and maximum salary.

We are here to encourage you, the Board of Education, to take a serious look at settling this contract as we continue in the costly Fact Finding process. It is becoming more apparent there has been much misunderstanding and miscommunication regarding several issues before the parties. We believe this has delayed the process immensely.

We have also had to endure the problems associated with the removal of our past superintendent. We are now beginning to make up for lost time and assistance in dealing with the vast changes to the evaluation system being implemented by the state Dept of Education. Despite this and other issues we have had to face in the past year, we continue to work hard and provide for our students. We have done our homework, we know the economic situation we all face, we follow the financial issues of the district, we know the settlements around Morris County and around the state. We know the settlements and salaries of those of you who also teach in Morris County. We know the salaries and salary guides of others who serve or have served the public. We ask you, the Board of Education, to consider that we here in Rockaway Borough work every bit as hard for our students as all of you do. We want to prevent our staff from coming to Rockaway Borough until they can find another district who will pay them more. We are asking for a FAIR and EQUITABLE settlement.

We look forward to reaching such a settlement so that we can move forward and focus on the quality education that our students have always received here in Rockaway Borough. Thank you for your time.

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