The Berlin Borough School District Board of Education met for its monthly meeting Nov. 20 in the Media Center at Berlin Community School. Topics included the passing of a Memorandum of Agreement between the Berlin Borough Education Association and the board of education, as well as student enrollment numbers.
The BBEA’s previous contract expired June 30. The association covers district teachers, custodians and classroom aides, all of whom worked under their previous contract while negotiations were ongoing.
With the ratification of the Memorandum of Agreement, the BBEA and board of education agreed to a deal that would expire June 30, 2023.
BBEA President Dali Kilpatrick praised the new contract.
“We agreed to a four-year contract, which is not normal [for these types of contracts],” Kilpatrick said, explaining that three-year contracts are more common. “So we are very grateful for that, because this way, we don’t have to turn around and start the negotiation process again next year.”
According to the memorandum, salaries will be increased by 13.2 percent over the four years. The contract increases the total amount of salary to BBEA members by 3.4 percent during year one, 3.3 percent during years two and three and 3.2 percent in the final year.
Each increase does not represent the amount for each individual member, according to Kilpatrick. Instead, a hike in the total salary for BBEA members is split after the total is increased.
“The percent of raises refers to the entire pot of money,” Kilpatrick noted. “It doesn’t necessarily refer to individuals getting a raise at that percent.”
Also in the contract: 10-month employees will have the option to be paid over 12 months. While salaries remain the same under the alternative pay option, it allows for income over the summer.
Other additions to the contract include a fourth personal day and the ability of members to use as many as five “banked” sick days to care for family members, go through adoption proceedings or attend meetings on behalf of their children.
“Both sides really did a nice job in negotiating and working together to come out with an equitable and fair agreement,” Superintendent Joseph Campisi said.
In a meeting with The Sun after the board meeting, Campisi also discussed the installation of school security cameras following two vandalism incidents on school grounds earlier this fall. According to Campisi, the district has not yet apprehended the individual(s) responsible, but it continues to update its monitoring systems to avoid other incidents.
“We’ve armed the [school] with more cameras, some sensory lights that turn on at night and we are actively upgrading our cameras at different remote areas to get a 360-view,” he said. “We’re trying to heighten our proactivity with our cameras and asking people if they do know something to please come forward, because they can do it anonymously.”
Berlin Community School reported to the state an in-district enrollment of 812 students for the 2019-2020 school year, as required by law during October. Student enrollment helps determine the amount of state aid allotted for school districts by the state Department of Education. Last year, BCS reported 808 students.
The school was recently denied its application for emergency state aid, according to Campisi, after the district cited the potential influx of students from a new development in Berlin Borough. The superintendent said the district so far has experienced a minimal increase from the development, which is not yet fully occupied.
If more students result from the development in coming months, Campisi believes the district would be able to apply again for additional funds.
“My hope is if we did experience an increase in the future, that the department of education would work with us,” he related. “If something we’re to change, the state aid would help ensure we’re not an underfunded district.”
The board will hold its reorganization meeting at 6:30 p.m. Jan 2 at Berlin Community School.