Newark Teachers Reach Agreement

October 26, 2012
LaborPress New Jersey Bureau

Newark Public Schools (NPS) and the Newark Teachers Union (NTU) have reached agreement. The current contract expired July 1, 2010, and the new agreement will be in effect until June 30, 2015. The agreement will allow NPS to make dramatic improvements in attracting, evaluating, rewarding and retaining great teachers. The contract was negotiated by a team headed by Joseph Del Grosso, president of the NTU/AFT, and Cami Anderson, superintendent of NPS. AFT President Randi Weingarten and Chris Cerf, state education commissioner, also played critical roles in the negotiations.

The agreement includes a new universal salary scale that values experience and performance and makes Newark teachers among the highest paid in the country. NTU President Joseph Del Grosso said: We believe this proposed agreement respects teachers as professionals and is good for the students and families who are the heart of Newark’s public schools. The negotiation was a collaborative process with Superintendent Anderson and her team that resulted in an outcome designed to improve teaching and learning in all Newark’s schools.

The TEACH NJ bill recently passed by the state legislature created an evaluation frame. Together, the district and NTU built upon that frame to include ongoing development and supports for teachers and a role for educators in the evaluation process. The goal is to develop and implement a system that is rigorous, transparent and fair, and that gives both administrators and teachers accurate information on teacher performance and ongoing feedback that enhances teacher performance and rewards teacher quality. The agreement adds $100 million of new money into teacher compensation; approximately half of which will be funded through NPS resources and the balance in philanthropic resources. This includes rewards and incentive payments, which will be led by the Foundation for Newark’s Future.

The contract provides for retroactive pay for all NPS members and a new universal salary scale that will replace the separate lanes tied to academic degrees and will recognize both experience and performance. The new scale will help teachers earn more money earlier in their careers, and offer bonuses up to $12,500 for all teachers rated “highly effective.” Teachers rated “partially effective” or “ineffective” are not entitled to an increase. Under the new contract, teachers will have greater flexibility in school-based decisions and will be able to seek waivers from the collective bargaining agreement.

Schools in need of dramatic improvement, identified as Turnaround Schools, will have additional flexibility, such as longer work days and additional pay for staff.


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