Friday’s Ridgewood News contained a letter to the editor that was a response to some one-sided reporting in the previous week’s edition: a classic example of two wrongs making something even more wrong (or something like that!).
The topic of both was the school district’s contract with the Ridgewood Administrators Association (RAA), which the BOE voted to approve at our meeting on October 18. Friday’s letter complained about the salary increases that were included in the contract. I would like to add a few facts that were left out of the original article, so that residents can form opinions that are more reflective of reality.
1. The Nov. 5 article focused only on increases – it did not list any of the concessions made by the RAA. All together, if you add up any increases and subtract any decreases in compensation, the net increase in the cost of the total contract is approx. 2.1%.
2. The salary increases included in the contract range from 2.5% to 4.0%.
3. The contract also includes concessions on the part of the RAA, the most significant of which being that all members will now pay 1.5% of their salaries toward healthcare premiums.
4. The RAA contract was negotiated before the district learned of cuts in state aid last spring. The Memorandum of Agreement with the RAA was signed on March 10. We learned about our 100% aid cut of approx. $3 million on March 17. I’m not sure why it takes until October to actually have a signed and approved contract, but that’s what happened. What we approved on October 18 was something that was negotiated and to which we agreed in another era – the era back when we used to receive aid from the state. Despite the seemingly short timeframe, today's world is a very different world.
I believe that negotiating these terms with the RAA has no negative bearing on our strength in negotiating the REA’s (teachers’) contract this year. Speaking for myself (because I'm not allowed, by law, to speak for the BOE), I promise that I will be, in the words of Friday's letter-writer, “strong, will pay attention to the costly details and will keep the contract fair and affordable.”
Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org