The Kinnelon Education Association (KEA) and Kinnelon Board of Education have finally reached an agreement on a new contract after more than a year of negotiations.
The new contract was ratified last week after KEA President Tom Shannon said the union felt the report prepared by a state-appointed fact-finder "reflects a fair compromise." The fact-finder was needed after the parties could not agree on terms of the contract.
Included in the contract are salary increases of 1.2 percent for the first year, 2 percent in the second year and 2.2 percent in the third year for 2011-2014. New salary guides still need to be ratified at a later date, Shannon said, a process that could take several months.
Kinnelon Board of Education members were pleased to announce that a settlement was near during the Jan. 31 meeting.
"This was a long time coming," Board President Dr. Steven Fink said. "It seems satisfactory to both parties and we look forward to regular life and getting back to business."
But Shannon said a celebration may not be had by the union in regard to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"Great financial concessions were made by the KEA in multiple areas, including several areas of health benefits, even while increases in premium payments rise 7 percent a year," he said.
Shannon said more than 60 percent of KEA members will see their salaries reduced every year for the remainder of their careers and that the cost of living "has an increasing price tag."
But the union leader also noted that teachers have been blamed for economic troubles and while salary increases were included in the new agreement, educators are feeling the effect of such.
"I am thankful we safeguarded certain benefits the board originally sought to eliminate; I am thankful that I work with terrific students and personnel," Shannon said. "Yet, some four years ago, public educators were vilified as the source of society’s economic woes, and, consequently, state mandates resulted in changes that continue to jeopardize compensation and deteriorate morale. That is nothing to celebrate."