HTEA, board seek new deal

HOWELL — Representatives of the Howell K-8 School District Board of Education and the Howell Township Education Association (HTEA) have yet to reach agreement on a new contract for the union’s members.

A contract typically runs for three academic years.

The HTEA’s previous contract expired on June 30. If the board and the union do not reach an agreement on a new deal by the time school starts in September, the HTEA members will continue working under the terms of the previous contract.

Speaking at the Aug. 10 meeting, board President Timothy O’Brien said the board’s labor committee has met with the HTEA representatives several times.

However, because the parties have not been able to reach an agreement on a new contract, the board and the union have filed a notice of impasse with the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission and asked for a state mediator to be appointed to help the two sides hammer out a deal, O’Brien said.

“We hope the involvement of a state mediator will move things forward and bring both sides to the ability to settle the contract,” the board president said.

The previous contract between the board and the HTEA was signed in September 2008, according to an article that was published in Greater Media Newspapers.

That deal gave HTEAmembers an average salary increase of 3.75 percent per year, according to district officials.

That was an average increase that was below the state average of 4.54 percent, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association.

The agreement covered the academic years 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Although there was an increase in the total amount of money budgeted for HTEA members’ salaries during each year of the contract, not every teacher in the district received the same percentage increase on his or her salary during the course of the contract.

An individual teacher’s percentage increase is based on the salary guide, which is determined by the school board and the union every three years.

Some HTEA members receive a larger percentage increase and some union members receive a smaller percentage increase on an annual basis.

The amount of the increase is determined by the employee’s years of service in the school district and by his or her place on the Howell salary guide.

In 2010-11 the starting salary for a teacher in Howell with a bachelor’s degree was $44,475.

In 2007-08 the starting salary for a teacher in Howell with a bachelor’s degree was $42,525.

In 2005-06 the starting salary for a teacher with the same credentials was $39,025.

The top salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree was $90,625 under the previous contract.

The HTEA has more than 1,000 members and includes teachers, custodians, support staff and teachers’ assistants.