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New Contract Approved for Brick Teachers

Brick Township Board of Education/Schools (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Brick Township Board of Education/Schools (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The Board of Education on Thursday night voted in favor of approving a new pact with the Brick district’s teachers.

“The negotiations committee for the board went through the process, worked with my office, to make sure the contract that is hopefully going to go in effect is fair and balanced,” said Paul Kalac, an attorney who the district hired to serve on the negotiating committee since three of the board’s current six members have relatives who work in the district.

The contract, which runs through June 30, 2018, does not include traditional flat percentage wage increases for district employees. Instead, the contract takes a percentage of the total salary base and increases it, while simultaneously drawing down the cost of health benefits.

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For example, Kalac explained, the current salary base for all teachers is approximately $58 million. The contract takes 3.41 percent of that figure in the first year, then applies that to come up with a new base.

“It does not mean all employees get that percentage increase,” Kalac said.

The same methodology is repeated for years two and three of the contract, when the salary base will be increased by 3.3 percent and 3.19 percent.

Explained simply: “The teachers are not getting a raise on top of their step increase,” said Kalac. “They are just moving up a step on their guide.”

The first year of the contract is “essentially a wash,” said Kalac, explaining that when the increases in salary are tempered with concessions in the cost of teachers’ health insurance coverage, the district’s cost will only total about $145,000 more in the first year, with similar modest increases in the remaining years. The cost of health benefits will decline by about $1.9 million in year one of the contract alone, officials said.

“To get a change in insurance in this day and age is quite an accomplishment,” Kalac said.

The contract was approved with all board members except Michael Conti voting in favor of the contract. Conti, whose wife is a teacher in the district, abstained from voting even though he legally would have been able to do so under the state’s so-called “doctrine of necessity” provision.