Home Moorestown News MEA, BOE reach settlement

MEA, BOE reach settlement

With a little over a week left on its current contract, the Moorestown Education Association came to an agreement with the Moorestown Township Public Schools Board of Education. The memorandum of agreement approved at last Tuesday’s board of education meeting was the culmination of six months of negotiations between the two parties.

The new contract will run from July 1 to June 30, 2022. The terms broadly include: maintaining the current salary guide “with minor enhancements;” an extra day of professional development; and changes to health-care plans, which will provide savings to both MEA members and the district.

Seven board members voted to approve the memorandum while board member Mark Villanueva voted “no” and Vice President David Weinstein abstained from voting due to a conflict of interest.

Board President Sandra Alberti said the agreement represents vigorous discussion and debate.

“Settling a contract with the MEA was certainly about costs, but it was also about how we can work together to contain future costs and improve how we improve how we support the students in this district,” Alberti said.

Villanueva said while he believes the district’s teachers should be well-compensated, he’s fearful about the impact the year-over-year increases could have on future budgets.

“I would ask that the board to allow us to continue to negotiate to try to get something that is affordable and is line with what we’ve done in the past and that is consistent with what is being done across the state,” Villanueva said.

Board member Caryn Shaw said school districts are always faced with potential financial shortages, and in past years, they’ve faced shortages into the millions. She thanked the MEA for helping them to limit their insurance costs and for the extra day of professional development.

She said in her eyes, if there are more negotiations to be had, they should be had with the state, which currently has an outstanding $1 million-plus owed to the Moorestown school district. Shaw said she and fellow board member Lauren Romano plan to join the Fair Funding Group advocating for underfunded districts.

“If we want to fight, then we fight the state for our fair share of funding, and we do it together,” Shaw said.

Lisa Trapani, MEA president, thanked the board for all of the hours it spent in meetings negotiating with MEA members.

“As I have stated before, it was not a pleasure to have all of those meetings because it was not, but at the end of the day, we reached a fair settlement,” Trapani said.

She said MEA members strive to make a positive impact on students, and with the contract in place, they will continue to provide the “added value” that goes into the Moorestown school system. Trapani said MEA members are willing to meet during the next three years to continue discussions

One parent expressed concerns with how MEA members went about negotiating. Lisa Burt explained that her daughter, a rising senior, had commitments from three teachers to write college letters of recommendations. Her daughter was recently informed that some teachers would not write letters while the contract was still in dispute.

“Using the children to further your agenda is shameful,” Burt said. “This is an adult issue that should be handled as adults.”

Fellow parent Nicola Hampton expressed similar disappointments with the way negotiations unfolded.

“I think you did a very effective job of engaging the community; I don’t think you did an effective job of getting the support of the community,” Hampton said.

Lorenzo Eagles, a history teacher at Moorestown High School, explained that no teacher ever said flat-out “no” to letters of recommendations. He told all of the students that they could come and talk to him in the fall if/when the contract was settled.

Eagles said, at the end of the day, none of the MEA members like to wear red shirts to board of education meetings or employ other negotiation tactics. He said he felt stuck between a rock and a hard place on the issue, but he wanted to stand up for himself when he felt his efforts weren’t being respected. He said with the contract settled, he has every intention of writing his typical 30 to 40 letters of recommendation for students as he’s done every year.

The next meeting of the Moorestown Board of Education has not yet been announced.

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