Both sides say school contract is close

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – After months of negotiations, officials say a contract is close to being approved with Middle Township school staff.

“It’s been a long process but times are hard,” said Charlotte Sadler, president of the Middle Township Education Association, the union that represents teachers and other staff in the district, who have been working without a contract through this school year.

The former contract expired June 30.

The latest sticking point is the distribution of salaries for Education Association members, which includes teacher, bus aides and other employees.

“It’s always about proper compensation,” said school board member Linda Koch, who heads the board’s Staff Relations/Negotiations Committee.

She said the Board of Education budget is capped at 2 percent and only so much money can be allocated.

Sadler said she is hoping a contract will be inked in the next month or so. Koch says said she expects the contract to be approved in a few months but ideally she would like it to be done sooner.

One major hurdle in the contract was the plan to privatize teacher aides and bus attendants last year, Sadler said. But school board members changed their minds, just before layoffs would have gone into effect.

Another contractual issue dealt with sick leave, according to Sadler.

The contract must be approved by members of the Education Association and the Board of Education must OK the agreement as well.

Asked how contract negotiations have gone, Koch said, “There’s dialogue, let’s put it that way.”

The next negotiation session hasn’t been set up yet, Koch said.

“This board has been very good to work with,” Sadler said.

Basically, Sadler said, three different contracts are being negotiated with the Board of Education. Teachers and other certified staff, as well as transportation and support workers formed under one association a few years ago, she said.

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