The Teacher Contract & Tax Payers


Most teachers are good and need to be paid and the pay should be reasonable.  However, the deal the BOE made is not good for taxpayers.  Teachers get raises via a step increase system just by showing up for work and / or passing additional graduate school courses. So the 2.75% increase each year for the next three is bump up on top of a raise. We are in a low inflationary period so this is a very good deal for teachers and not so great for taxpayers.  The health care costs are slowly coming to parody with the rest of the labor market and this fair. This part of the contract helps taxpayers some what. However, the plan designs are locked in for three years.  The contract does not do enough to protect taxpayers from what are likely to be health care premium increases over the next three years. The teachers still get a great defined benefit retirement plan with the taxpayers paying significantly into it. The teachers still get health care in retirement that will have to be paid for by future taxpayers. Also, we have no merit pay system in this contract and we the taxpayers are lacking in a linking pay to performance in this contract.  In West Orange average property tax bills are about $12,000 per year and average household income is about $90,000.00 per year. The teachers contract is a big driver of costs for the taxpayers and needs to be addressed in a better way.  So this contract shoulb be viewed as a bad deal for the taxpayers.  As the BOE could not tell me the average or mean salary and benefits for a teacher before the vote on the contract when I asked at the BOE meeting before the contract was voted on, I suspect cost analysis for the taxpayers was not done before the fact or it was done in an sloppy way. The BOE should have held out for a better deal. 

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Gary Englert January 19, 2013 at 12:59 AM
I'm extremely disappointed that Mr. Kraemer doesn't know the difference between parity and parody.
wohopeful January 19, 2013 at 01:49 AM
Evan more disappointing are your struggles separating fact from the fiction you choose to purvey here.
Adam Kraemer January 19, 2013 at 01:50 AM
I find it interesting the Gary finds issue with my grammar which is admittedly off. However, he does not question my fact nor my conclusion. I stand by what I said. The contract is not a great deal for the taxpayers despite all the congratulatory back slapping that went on at the Board of Education.
john anthony prignano January 19, 2013 at 02:13 AM
I agree with Englert about Adam's spelling and malapropisms and convoluted syntax, Adam was a school teacher for several years .Since teachers have no professional standards, he may have developed bad habits which can be quite difficult to break Englert didn't express any disappointment with the letter written by "Teach" .because they are kindred spirits, and because she is a West Orange teacher. Perhaps he thought she was writing short parody of the English language..
Gary Englert January 19, 2013 at 03:49 PM
wohopeful: Not only is my ability to separate fact from fiction quite refined, unlike you, I don't cower behind a screen name when expressing the opinions that result.
Gary Englert January 19, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Mr. Kraemer: The point that seems to allude you is that to be critiquing education, when your grammar, syntax and spelling suggest your own is quite obviously lacking, is to have those musing pretty much fall on deaf ears. None of us having been privy to the negotiations and mediation that went into the current teacher contract, we are ill equipped to comment on the substance of them...and I don't think it's at all productive to play such things out in public. Still, I am confident that the Board's summary is quite accurate and that, all in, the net annual increase will equal the current rate of inflation, or 1%. It is also noteworthy that teachers are on track to eventually be paying for 35% of their benefits package; a paradigm shift from when their contribution was zero.
john anthony prignano January 19, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Adam, Isn't it sad that Englert doesn't know the difference between "allude" and "elude"? The point that seems to ELUDE you is what he meant to write. Englert confirms what I said about the teacher contract; The taxpayers will cover the increases in their benefits package, and already very overcompensated and under - achieving, people will at the very least not lose ground to inflation. An enormous number of the working public, teachers' employers, salaries are NOT keeping pace with inflation, and I don't know anyone who isn't paying more into their benefits package, especially health care costs..Forty - something teachers at the underachieving Washington School make close to $1,000 a day in compensation for every day they're scheduled to work, and 63% of the their students qualify for low- cost or free meals.The scenario that's been occurring in poor Districts for years will now be widespread; a self- styled elitist who displays affluence from head to toe droning on in a dolorous monotone for a few hours a day to children who live in poverty. At the end of the day, this teacher gets into his or her expensive late - model car, and drives home to an affluent suburb. or to their second job.This is the New Order, a corrupted version of the American Dream; prosperity and wealth achieved not by working long hours 6 or 7 days a week, or by innovation,or by possessing exceptional talent, but by systematically transferring a shrinking money supply from one group to another.
Adam Kraemer January 19, 2013 at 08:08 PM
@ Gary The teachers still get a generous defined benifit retirement plan with a relatively limited time on the job to vest The retirement age for teacher is relatively low retirement in age for a job that is not know for physical labor. The techer still get health care insruacne in retirement. They still have a good dental plan. So on balance the compensiaiton package is generous. I like teachers and most of them do a good job most of the time. However, the tax base to pay for this is for all of this is for all intensive purposes maxed out. The salary guide is from about $50,000 to $110,000. Estimate 60% on top of that as the taxpayers part of covering health care, retirement, dental, health care in retirmement. A rate 35% of health care cost on employers for a family plan in gernerous in most industries. I personaly pay more then that via my employer for health care. A 50% match on 401K on up to 3% of salary is normal in the busienss world. So this is still beyond what the taxpayers of West Orange and New Jersery can reasonably cover.
Gary Englert January 19, 2013 at 08:25 PM
john anthony prignano: Actually, I do know the difference between "allude" and "elude" and can offer no excuse for the brain freeze and the error: Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! Unlike Mr. Kraemer, however, I'm not touting my credentials as a former educator or you, who offers no credentials at all...other than perhaps ownership of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare"...about $25.00, on-line or in bookstores.
esther January 19, 2013 at 08:45 PM
I for one do not understand what is going on? Does anyone who commented above or who merely read the comments understand that from Governor Whitman's time until Christie's reighn the teacher's pension plan paid the bills for the state. That from Whitman's time through to the present the state has not paid its obigation to the teacher's pension? It's okay for all of you blast teachers and deny them a decent pay raise but aren't you the same people who think nothing of asking teachers to stay long after their contractural day is over to write college recommendations for your college bound kids, supervise clubs with no stipend, come in early and stay late to give your students extra help, work late into the night and on weekends preparing lessons, calling parents, correcting papers, tests, and quizzes, make phone calls to parents about their children nights and weekends...this list goes on and on. NOT TO MENTION learning how to follow best practices and follow recommendations of security experts, local, state and federal guidelines to protect your children from fire, school invaders, natural disasters, and other emergencies. What do you really think this is all worth? How many of you do extra for nothing in your job? You need to set a better example and get back to respecting teachers. This teacher bashing doesn't go on in places like Japan, Norway, Germany, and other places who respect teachers and the jobS they do.
john anthony prignano January 19, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Newark Teachers Union President Joe Del Grosso told 1,000 who had gathered about the contract terms; "It's not everything I wanted, and it's not everything you deserve." Base salaries will increase 13.9% over 3 years .Del Grosso tried to tame the crowd repeatedly reminding teachers to " be professional" but he was frequently shouted over.Del Grosso also said they could walk out on Tuesdayif the contract is voted down, even though teacher strikes are illegal in New Jersey.A Star - Ledger editorial was entitled Classroom Mules - Hoptacong teachers job action leaves students as collateral damage - There are fairer ways to bargain that don't involve sabotaging a child's future.They stopped writing college endorsement letters.Tough luck, kid. Your future in higher education is nothing more than barter material.The Teacher's Union president said they had no choice."It was forced upon us " she explained."Our salaries were frozen.These are people who budgeted their.lives based on salary increases," O my goodness! Benjamen Button, I'm so sorry! The median teacher salary in Hoptacong is $77,500. Much, much less instructional time than the state average, and very inferior results.This is another example of the inmates taking over the asylum. As the late Ogden Nash wrote; "In the world of mules there are no rules" I'm just so glad I didn't read that the teachers stopped teaching the character and anti - bullying courses...
john anthony prignano January 19, 2013 at 10:48 PM
At the Washington School, 57.9% of fifth graders tested partially proficient in 2010 - 2011, up from 36.9% in 2009 - 2010. In mathematics, 17.9% of fifth graders tested partially proficient in 2010 - 2011, up from 9.1% in 2009 - 2010. The Star Ledger: New Jersey already has one of the most stringent set of school security requirements. Among OTHER things, twice each year schools are required to hold an active shooter drill, an evacuation drill, a bomb threat drill and a lockdown drill; a multiculturalism curriculum ,an anti- bullying curriculum, a character curriculum, many days of standardized testing, two field days, fitness testing, and a representative from West Orange's food vendor service will speak to the students about healthy eating choices,environmental and recycling education,the S.A.L.E.S program, the D.A.R.E. program, World Languages instruction, Black History and New jersey Social Studies courses - the grammar school day begins at 8:45, but instruction doesn't begin until 8:55, that's 30 hours a year, Computer science,.gym , music,art etc. What has been the response to this enormous increase in state and district mandates by our professional staff and School Board? WOHS provides the hourly equivalent of 14 days LESS instructional time than the state average,and 30 days less instructional time than Montclair. The grammar schools have 12 scheduled early dismissals. NO ONE sincere about providing children with a quality education would pull this crap.
Bert Peronilla January 20, 2013 at 12:41 AM
Each Board member gave their comments regarding the contract and Ms. Mordecai gave positive feedback, including the fact that the net overall increase will be less than 1%, hence she voted for it. I believe that she voted her mind, and not for other reasons. This is my humble opinion.
john anthony prignano January 20, 2013 at 01:26 AM
esther New Jersey; 1.6 million people live in poverty. 3,000,000 people earn $34,400 or less.30% of working people rely on food stamps. 21% of all the jobs lost in the 2008 retraction paid $13.50 or less. 58% of all the jobs created in the recovery pay $13.50 or less..A recent Star - Ledger article was entitled " Foreclosures are down everywhere - except New Jersey.The unemployment rate is 9.6%. Now even if, as you claim, you work,24/7, where are the "decent raises" you regard as an entitlement supposed to come from? Who cares,right?.Also,teachers focus almost exclusively on their {dubious} efforts to justify their compensation, NOT results.Public schools are the Great American Excuse Machine;uninvolved parents,family income dictates educational outcomes, and of course,schools are underfunded and teachers are underpaid. Also,I think most, if not all of what you do on "your own time" is pure semantics or is of little consequence..The "come early and stay late" crowd works a 6 1/2 hour day. Do 2 more hours,and it adds up to a conventional work day. If what you do on your own time IS important,why isn't it in the schedule? You're doing the work anyway. As the mandates pile up,teachers are fighting for more money and LESS classroom time. esther, your spelling, punctuation and syntax are terrible! Who is this teacher who is being denied a pension? I didn't know places could respect people.The word reign doesn't have an "h" in it. And please! Watch the run- on sentences! .. .,
Jim January 20, 2013 at 02:01 AM
Portmanteau 9:00 pm on Saturday, January 19, 2013 A couple of the area Elementary Schools are comparable to others in tony towns and a couple are struggling. This is based primarily on economic factors. By your math, John, you would have teachers join the ranks of the downwardly mobile. I guarantee that this salary would not encourage many to teach. Teaching is not considered a decent career path by many in colleges today primarily because of mediocre pay and lots of scrutiny and pressure. Pressure comes in many forms, but can still be a potential killer for teachers. It is also a career that many people who trained to teach, just like Adam Kraemer, leave for a variety of reasons, within the first 5 years. This might offer some supposed job security in a very tough economic climate, yet many are willing to forgo this perk as the job is either more difficult or less rewarding than it appears.
john anthony prignano January 20, 2013 at 05:39 AM
Portmanteau Why would I pay a teacher $1,000 a day, when no matter what he or she does, the issue has been decided by the child's family income? Why does Newark spend over $20,000 a child when the situation is hopeless? How much is it in Asbury Park, $25,000 ? So, what, still hopeless.. Mediocre pay ? $82.000 a year after 9 years base with a terrific benefits package.I once asked a Teachers' Union President about quality of life issues;" Do you see any advantages over the private sector in having summers off, tenure, a 6 hour work day, no penalty for failure etc. He said " No, a job's a job." So I said,"Then you wouldn't mind giving all things up, right?" That question ended the conversation.. Portmanteau, all over teachers are fighting and often winning the battle for less classroom time and more money.You call these people sincere? It doesn't bother you that there are14 days less instructional time at WOHS than the state average? 260 out of 389 schools based on the HSPAS No problem? People are leaving the disintegrating public sector in droves for teaching jobs. Not my opinion, fact. On the other hand, is there a shortage of guidance counselors and shop teachers in the private sector?.Where are all these vacant jobs that pay 4 or $500,000 that only disaffected teachers can do.. Do you have a problem with the "come early,stay late work weekends" teachers who make well over $100k a year plus benefits who take their students' parents' jobs? I know people who quit .
john anthony prignano January 20, 2013 at 06:20 AM
or were forced out because they couldn't or wouldn't drink the Kool -Aid. Generally speaking, if the people who pay teachers are suffering economic hardship, you don't think the people THEY EMPLOY should too? So much has been spent on the pretext of preparation, there is virtually nothing left to prepare for..
john anthony prignano January 20, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Liberty Middle School Ask Grade 7, Language Arts Literacy - Partial Proficiency 33.7% Math 37.3%. The year before, it was 58.5% . Grade 8, L.A.L, Partially Proficient 20.9%, Math 45.7% Edison Grade 6, L.A.L. Partially Proficient, L.A.L.,31.2% Math 45.7% Roosevelt Middle School Grade 7 Partially Proficient, L.A.L.31.8%, Math 40.2% Grade 8 L.A.L.Partially Proficient L.A.L. 16.9% Math, 33% The year before the number was 47%. I consider those results horrible. However, note the huge improvements in the math scores at Roosevelt and Liberty. Portmanteau ,you say there is a direct link between a families income ,and the educational success or failure of their child. Therefore, we must conclude that the reason for those huge gains in math scores is because before that particular test was taken, a lot of the children's families hit the lottery.. Also, we have gained 20.8% and 14% in math scores Can we gain say, 25% and 20%? What does the Law of Socio - Economic Educational Inevitability say about that ? Is it at least possible that we can improve more, or have we maxed out until we have more lottery winners?., . .
john anthony prignano January 20, 2013 at 10:30 PM
esther Nowhere do you say you love or even like your chosen profession. Nowhere do you say you even so much as like your students. There's nothing positive in your letter about parents. You know, the people who pay you. It appears that you are focused on salaries and pensions and raises to the exclusion of every other form of reward educators derive from their calling. Teachers, we are told { by teachers } regard money as a distant second to the immeasurable satisfaction and joy of teaching and knowing that in doing so, they're making a very positive and very significant contribution to society. Frankly, I am quite disappointed that you did not say at the end of your lengthy list of "other" duties, something like . "Don't get me wrong, I love every minute of what I'm doing, and I love my students."
tiredtaxpayer January 20, 2013 at 11:42 PM
If words have any meaning "partially proficient" is an unacceptable outcome!
john anthony prignano January 21, 2013 at 12:57 AM
tiredtaxpayer Of course you're correct. If words have meaning, the term partially proficient would be the correct term if a test paper has at least one correct answer. Look at the degradation of language these people employ; The length of a full grammar school day is six and a half hours. So what is the length of of an "EXTENDED " session? { their language, not mine } Is it 7 hours, 8 hours,perhaps more? No. The length of an extended session is four and a half hours .Per pupil spending in West Orange went from $15,000+ to over $21,000 with absolutely no change in the amount of money being spent. When I would get the school report card, I would look at teacher attendance figures. I felt teacher absenteeism was pretty low. Then I read something; Teacher attendance figures do not count certain absences; Some of the absences not counted are extended absences,, pre - approved absences,and emergency absences. This means that if a teacher is absent all year, their attendance rate isn't zero,it's 100% i.e. perfect.Also, the statement "This new program or this new approach is for the benefit the students,." actually means "These changes make our jobs easier..A police officer teaches the D.A.R.E. program. Students in the S.A.L.E.S program attempt to teach other students world languages. Scan Tron is used to grade papers.When I complained about teachers grading papers but not correcting them, I was told that's done because red ink all over the paper might hurt ., . .
john anthony prignano January 21, 2013 at 01:05 AM
the students self-. esteem. It just happens to also excuse teachers from correcting papers. When I asked, "How can a child learn if they're not corrected when they make a mistake?" Never got an answer to that one. Maybe they thought I already knew the answer; They can't .But I know our dedicated educators believe with all their heart and soul that every child can learn......to be at least partially proficient..
Adam Kraemer January 21, 2013 at 11:53 AM
@ Ester. I respect teachers and thinks most of them do a good job most of the time. However, we in West Orange are living in one of the highest taxed towns in the state the pays the most in property taxes. Tax relief is needed. We just can afford this contract. I also respect the teachers in the non public faith based school my children go to and they get paid a lot less then the teacher in West Orange and teacher more hours per year. I estimate that the combined salary and benefits under the the contract that the gross compensation of the average West Orange teacher will be more than $100,000 per year in cost that that taxpayers will have to cover. About $65,000 in salary and multiply that by about 1.6 to cover that taxpayer side of health care, retirement, dental insurance, and health care in retirement and other employment related costs. It is true that the teachers contribution to benefits has gone up as it has for jut about every employee in this nation. On a ten months contract that is over $10,000 per month in compensation. In this labor market that is in my view very generous for the teachers and it is going to mean that we the taxpayers will continue to have onerous taxes as teacher salary and benefits are a significant driver of the cost of government and the related price in terms off taxes in West Orange.
john anthony prignano January 21, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Adam This is from a story about the Newark Teacher's contract. This part is about how some teachers reacted to the concept of merit pay;"Others expressed fears that merit pay would pit one teacher against another and diminish the overall quality of education." it's going to be all about me , because money talks, said one teacher."If it's between her and I,I want that money for myself, I want it in my pocket." Adam, it's the same nonsense. A flight from competition,a fear of being exposed as a bad teacher, a clear declaration that they are all about the almighty ,and this individual's seems to completely miss the reason for pay for performance money; to elevate everyone's performance. I think it's obvious , her method of getting the money includes sabotage, back stabbing and throat cutting. Hey, it's a job. Adam , salary steps are NOT mandated. The NJEA has already attempted to distance merit pay from objective standards: "If we use test score improvements or maintaining scores as a criteria,a specials needs teacher, or an ESL teacher, or someone who teaches disaffected students, would be compared to a High Aptitude or Honors History teacher. How is that fair?". Adam, you support MERIT pay for West Orange teachers, with West Orange's level of nepotism and cronyism ? FIRST,at least make the Board take the pledge. They'll find their ways, but it's a start. Adam, question; Does this contract contain any more instructional time? .
john anthony prignano January 21, 2013 at 10:24 PM
should read, the almighty dollar, and this individual seems
john anthony prignano January 21, 2013 at 11:45 PM
Adam , Here's the latest figures; The median salary of a West Orange teacher is $82,392 for 9 years service.The state median teacher salary is $63,851 for 10 years..The median Administrator salary in West Orange is $131,716 for 13 years.. The state median Administrator salary is $119,491 for 19 years.The percentage of the West Orange school budget that is dedicated to teacher and Administrator compensation is 72%, The state average is 66%.. West Orange teacher compensation as a percentage of the budget has gone from 61% to 62% to 63% over the past 3 years. State average per pupil spending is $17,455. West Orange spends over $21,000 per pupil. Based on the $21.000 figure, West Orange commits $15,480 per pupil for teacher and Administrator compensation, about 22% more money in real dollars than the state average. Essex County is a very expensive county to live in,even by Jersey standards..Guess what, there's no county or state residency requirement. Teachers are being given raises not based on ANYTHING except, "it's that time again" , and The Rule; Give your friends money! .Source; The most recent New Jersey School Report Card.
john anthony prignano January 22, 2013 at 01:58 AM
Concerned Is there more instructional time included in this contract? the median salary for a West Orange teacher is $82,392 for 9 years of service. The state median is $63,851 for 10 years. The West Orange median salary for administrators is $131,716 for 13 years. The state median administrator salary is.119,491 for 19 years .54,000 state workers agreed to contracts that provide2.75% raises over 4 years. West Orange teachers and administrators are among the highest compensated educators in the state, and they got 4 times that. Less core - curriculum instructional time every year, horrible results, taking jobs in the private sector, talking about the come early, stay late. work on weekends stuff, but the CONTRACT calls for 14 days less instructional time at WOHS than the state average. but hey, the increase is less than 1% a year. See the state contract compared to the West Orange teachers' contract? How's that work? People who pay state taxes are broke, but people who pay property tax are living high on the hog? AND the town is losing lots of tax appeals . It's a 2% SPENDING cap, not a 2% tax cap. Check out Livingston.A 40 year old West Orange teacher with an advanced degree can make well over $175,000 in salary, longevity pay , coaching and mentoring stipends and still spend summers in Europe. . 63% of the children at the Washington School qualify for low cost or free meals . The public schools are there to enrich their employees, NOT to educate children, period. .
john anthony prignano January 22, 2013 at 02:49 AM
Concerned Do you realize how absurd and sadistic what's happening here is? What justifies ANY increase for the educators in West Orange ? Based on the HSPAS West Orange ranks 260 out of 389 schools. The SAT scores are well below the state average. Students are testing "partially proficient" at a rate of 30, 40 and 50 per cent on some standardized tests. tests. West Orange spends over $21,000 per pupil NOW. 72% of the total budget goes to educators' compensation . The state average is 66% and state average per pupil spending is $17,455. Each year the children receive less and less core - curriculum instruction and more social engineering instruction. More and more, the poorly educated are being hired to provide more bad education.. There is 9.6% unemployment, and 30% of WORKING people rely on food stamps .3,000.000 people make less than $34,400,and their take home pay is shrinking. 1.6 million New Jerseyans are living in poverty .58% of all jobs created during the "recovery" pay $13.50 an hour or less. Most of these jobs are in retail and food preparation. Star Ledger; "Foreclosures are down everywhere,except New Jersey." This is the Road to Serfdom , as described by Hayak , simply transferring money from one group to another. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely Any pretense about what and who the public schools are here for is GONE. This is the New Order, and as Al Jolson said, "You aint seen nuthin' yet" ......
john anthony prignano January 22, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Concerned To qualify for free school meals, a family of four must earn $30,000 or less.To qualify for low cost school meals, a family of four must earn $42.000 or less. Approximately 38% of West Orange students fall into one of those two categories A school needs 20% of its students in those categories to qualify for the program .The Liberty Middle School qualifies. A teacher there with an advanced degree is contractually obligated to teach no more than 750 hours a year.This teacher's compensation is well over $200 dollars an hour and there's more money on the way..And perhaps this teacher has a private sector job or two Perhaps this teacher's attendance isn't all that great,and perhaps this teacher is assigned a student teacher from time to time.. As I previously stated, we will see more and more of this; A self - styled elitist displaying affluence from head to toe doing a few hours a day of instructional time of questionable quality, while standing in front of a group of students who live in poverty. The pretense is over. Let us accept that reality and proceed from there. Hotspur, Henry the Fourth : "We shall, out of this nettle danger, pluck this flower, safety." . .
john anthony prignano January 23, 2013 at 02:42 AM
The teachers have an extremely generous benefits package.They are among the highest compensated educators in the state. What's this less than 1% stuff? If a teacher's base salary is now $100,000,and they retire at about $108,500, and their pension is based on 60% of their base pay, they will receive about $5.000 more a year for life. People like Dr. Rando and Mark Kenny will get raises of $17,000 on their base over the life of the contract- a 10k + a year pension increase. Who pays the bulk of that? For all intents and purposes, teachers will pay nothing into their benefits package. As Adam Kramer wrote, the contract does not do enough to protect taxpayers from rising health care premiums.Even with their increased contribution,they will pay far less out of pocket than anyone I know. They are "spending money" {not theirs} to protect a larger,sum of money that they won't have to pay for out of pocket that other people do. Medical costs are part of everyone's budget, no different than food and clothing..Spend $5,000 a year out of pocket, then get a plan that reduces your payout to $2,500. Do you have $2,500 more in disposable income or not? Some time ago,a letter appeared in The Chronicle with a detailed review of the teachers' health plan.It was incredibly generous .It was yet another example of School Board members displaying their steely resolve to give the teachers everything that's not nailed down. Any pretense about what and who the public schools are here for is over.


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