Tinton Falls teachers close school on Election Day over contract dispute

Tinton Falls school were closed Tuesday due to contract disputes between teachers and the district.

Tinton Falls school were closed Tuesday due to contract disputes between teachers and the district. (11/3/15)

TINTON FALLS - Students at Tinton Falls schools had the day off today, but it wasn’t entirely due to Election Day.

Teachers at the school say they are unhappy over a lack of a contract and wanted to make a statement. On Friday, the teachers dropped off letters to the superintendent saying that they would not come into work today. Due to New Jersey state law, teachers are technically allowed to take the day off to vote.

School was supposed to go on as scheduled Tuesday, and there were even supposed to be teacher conferences afterward. However, those meetings were postponed due to the amount of teachers who chose not to come in.

“It’s time for us to make a stand,” says Cherie Ronan, with the Tinton Falls Education Association. “We have been three years without a contract.”

Tinton Falls teachers are making about $6,000 less than the average teacher salary in Monmouth County. Teachers' union leaders say that the lack of competition is costing them strong employees.

“We are losing some teachers,” says Ronan. “Because of that, we’re not retaining ones at the top, experienced teachers.”

In 2014, the Tinton Falls School District offered teachers a 2.4 percent raise. The teachers turned that offer down because they say it would still keep them at below-average pay.

After the teachers rejected the deal, Board of Education President Peter Karavites posted a message on the schools’ website that stated, “The Board of Education doesn’t believe the Tinton Falls Education Association understood the terms and conditions about how the BOE increased pay for every member. The BOE offered 2.45 percent, which is above the state mandated 2 percent budget cap.

Contract negotiations have now moved from an independent mediator to a fact finder. That report might be ready by December. When the report comes out, the district and the teachers will have to decide whether or not to accept the findings.

Teachers tell News 12 New Jersey they will be back at school Wednesday. Tuesday’s missed classes will need to be made up.

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