Moorestown’s board of education held its final meeting of the school year on June 14, with a room full of red shirts at William Allen Middle School.
The shirts were worn to support teachers in their contract negotiations. To date, the contract between the Moorestown Education Association (MEA) and the school board is set to expire on June 30, and negotiation sessions have ended without an agreement. That prompted MEA members to walk down Main Street on June 9.
“What does that mean that our contact expires? Well, that means that our pay salaries (will) all freeze,” Moorestown High School teacher Beth Glennon said in a Facebook Live video. “So, my expenses, my contributions, my health insurance, my mortgage, my taxes, everything goes up but my salary does not.
“So, I’m essentially taking a pay cut.”
MEA President Maurice Weeks addressed the board regarding negotiations.
“ … Many of you have sought to remind us of how well our education staff has performed and served our students and community before, during and as we hopefully exit this pandemic,” he said. “ … It’s only fair that we take into consideration what our community demands and deserves when making decisions in these negotiations …
“ … There have been many rounds of negotiations and some progress has been made,” Weeks added. “Parts of this have been settled and signed off on. To keep things moving along, we agreed to engage in a state-provided third-party mediation process. There are further steps in that process, including the next one, called ‘fact finding.’”
Weeks said the MEA was willing to engage in direct talks, preferably before the expiration of the current contract.
Teachers, residents and students addressed the board in support of the MEA.
“You’ve shared how much you value our educators; it’s time to show them,” said Moorestown resident Amanda McComas. “You’ve mentioned tonight how much you admire their expertise and dedication. It’s time to show them …
“These educators are not asking for the world, although that is what we ask of them each and every day.”
“ … It baffles me that Moorestown is one of the most privileged and fortunate school districts in the area, and we’re actually struggling to at least be open to the idea of raising the teachers’ pay,” said senior Brooke Blizzard. “ … Moorestown’s schools are literally nothing without (their) teachers …
“It would be sad to see Moorestown turn into a place that cares more about greed than paying their teachers the minimum.”
“This is personal,” said Bridget Potts, a teacher at Roberts Elementary School. “ … This is our livelihood. My colleagues and I need this money to provide for our loved ones. This settlement is not just what we deserve, it’s a necessity for us.”
After official board business, Weeks addressed the public.
“ … I understand what it means to commit your life to education,” he noted. “ … We see you. We appreciate you. That does not take away from what we need to do together to get through this negotiation process.
“We’re willing and we’re ready to meet and continue to work this out, because we owe it in fairness to you, to our students (and) to our community.”