The Bayonne Teachers Association and the Bayonne Board of Education reached a tentative agreement on a four-year union contract, setting the stage for the BTA to ratify the contract in the coming weeks.
The deal includes a 12.7 percent raise over four years, includinga 2.8 percent retroactive raise from the current school year,since the union signed a two-year retroactive agreement last year, and a 3.3 percent raise for the next three years.
“We’ve actually done two contracts in two and a half years,” said Board President Joseph Broderick.“This one, hopefully, should be for this year and the next three years. It’s good for us, because we know how much we have to deal with, and it gives the teachers stability, knowing what they will get next year and the year after. At the least, this way we know where we stand.”
“I’m ecstatic by it,” said Trustee Christopher Munoz, a teacher in Hoboken.“I think that it’s been a long and arduous road for the Bayonne teacher. They are by far the most underpaid teachers in the county. It’s about time we give them the respect they deserve, and respect starts with the contract.”
Total salaries make up 65 percent of the $130.7 million 2018-2019 school year budget passed by the BBOED on April 25, while salaries and benefits combine for 84 percent of the budget. Included in the budget is a 2.87 percent property tax increase and a $68.3 million property tax levy. Still, the district is allocating more money for teachers this time around than the last four-year contract.
In the 2016-2017 school year, the average Bayonne teacher had a salary of $67K and 11.8 years of experience. Teachers start at around $31K and can make up to $120. Compare that with Jersey City Public Schools, where the average teacher is paid $82K with 13 years of experience. The minimum salary there is $53.5K, and maximum is $121.5. A similar trend continues throughout Hudson County, with Bayonne remaining the lowest paid.
“I think teachers have been undervalued nationally and that’s no secret. That’s something we don’t want to do in Bayonne,” said Munoz. “The Bayonne teacher shouldn’t have to worry about their next paycheck and when they will settle their next contract.”
Not many teachers feel that their pay reflects their value to society, and a 2017 Education Next Poll shows that more than 6 in 10 Americans believe teachers should be paid more. After all, from 2000 to 2013, teacher salaries in NJ declined by more than 3 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which is not far off from the national one percent decline.
The district, as always, is keeping its fingers crossed for a more generous state school funding formula. Text of the proposed budget reads, “The additional State Aid, if received over the next few years, would go to Collective Bargaining Agreements, more educators and personnel, while at the same time keeping the tax increase to a reasonable level.”
President of the Bayonne Teachers Association,Alan D’Angelo, did not return a request for comment. The union has yet to officially ratify the contract.
Amy DeGise will seek HCDO chair
In a move that apparently hopes to capitalize on her hefty voter numbers in last year’s Board of Education election, Amy DeGise – daughter of County Executive Tom DeGise – announced on May 10 that she will seek the chairmanship of the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO.)
An elected member of the Jersey City Board of Education, lifelong Jersey City resident and educator, DeGise hopes to gain the support of the majority of the county’s mayors as well as many other Democratic leaders. A full list of endorsements will be announced soon.
DeGise will challenge state Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack in a committee vote in June to replace outgoing HCDO Chair Vincent Prieto.
The move is part of a fight for control of the HCDO and is reportedly designed to help rescue her father as county executive, whom Stack hopes to defeat with a candidate of his own in 2019.
Stack, along with Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, West New York Mayor Felix Roque, and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, have said they would like to see a candidate other than Tom DeGise run for county executive in 2019.
The chair of HCDO would have a lot of influence in deciding which candidate will run on the official Democratic line on the primary ballot.
The campaign supporting Tom DeGise is promoting Amy DeGise as an example of Hudson County’s diversity.
“Hudson County is the most diverse, dynamic and exciting place in New Jersey and it’s time for our Democratic Party to reflect the energy and progressive values that our residents live every day,” said (Amy) DeGise. “I’m running to lead our county party into a unified, strong future that is open to everyone who cares about their community and wants to see progress in our county. I’m incredibly excited to begin this journey and look forward to working as hard as I can for each and every vote and for the future of our Hudson County Democratic Organization.”
But critics – even some supporters of Tom DeGise – are critical of the move, and believe Tom DeGise should run, not Amy.
The elected committee members of the Hudson County Democratic Organization will be voting on June 12.
Bayonne High School named in US News & World Report education rankings
Bayonne High School made the Top 80 of US News & World Report’s annual school rankings, which considers 2015-16 school year data and state and AP test scores, and other statistics. Bayonne High School came in at No. 77 in NJ, while also receiving national recognition, according to the report.
BHS students also rank in the 54th percentile in reading, which is above the state average, and ranks in the 19th percentile in mathematics, which is below the state average.
In AP test rankings, BHS ranks in the 40th percentile, but ranks in the 23rd percentile for AP students tested.
The school’s “college readiness proficiency” ranks in the 12.6 percentile. Meanwhile, 86 percent of the 2,405 Bayonne High School students graduate.
All public schools in the state and country are eligible to be ranked by U.S. News & World Report. However, to be analyzed, schools must have 15 or more 12th grade students or “sufficient enrollment in other high school grades during the 2015-2016 school year to be analyzed.”
The ranking system uses information from the Common Core of Data (provided by the U.S. Department of Education), the College Board (AP test results), the International Baccalaureate (IB test results) and each school’s state data on proficiency tests and graduation rates.
Uber Health partnering with RWJ Barnabas
RWJBarnabas Health announced a system-wide initiative with Uber, the ride-sharing platform, through Uber Health, a HIPAA-compliant dashboard that allows healthcare providers to provide safe, reliable, on-demand and pre-scheduled rides to patients traveling to and from medical appointments. The service is initially being implemented at Jersey City Medical Center and, in the coming months, will expand across the healthcare provider’s system. Uber Health will complement existing transportation services at each of the RWJBH hospitals.
The collaboration serves as a solution to transportation needs across the RWJBH hospital system for patients throughout the communities it serves. Through the new service, patients utilizing RWJBH facilities will have the convenience of transportation services provided by Uber.
“We know transportation can be a barrier in accessing necessary health services and we are pleased to partner with Uber Health to help address this need,” stated Barry H. Ostrowsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJBarnabas Health. “Our goal has always been to make health care more accessible and with Uber Health, we can reduce transportation barriers for patients traveling to primary care appointments and follow-up care visits, and provide a safe ride home after being discharged from the hospital.”
Kennedy Dancers Repertory Company opens Hispanic youth talent search
The Kennedy Dancers Inc., a nonprofit professional dance company, dance school, and educational cable television production company, is proud to announce they are the opening performance at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC).The Kennedy Dancers Repertory Company (professional dancers) will open The Hispanic Youth Showcase with an homage to Josephine Baker, featuring Angelica Cassimiro, choreography and re-enactment by Diane Dragone, Artistic Director at the Kennedy Dancers, Inc.
In addition to the Kennedy Dancers Repertory Company performing, The Kennedy Dancers, Inc. will send four members of their Inner City Youth Junior Dancers Company (known as the“Dream Team”) to compete in the Hispanic Youth Showcase. This showcase supports Hispanic youth in their pursuit of dance and music with several scholarships.
The four-member team includes Joyce Najm, Ebony Greene, Leah Murphy, and Brianna Karioki. The four dancers of Hispanic decent are the chosen finalists for this talent competition. The Inner City Youth Junior Company will perform to Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” choreographed by Diane Dragone.
For more info, please call (201)-659-2190 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whole Foods eyes new location in Jersey City
After changing plans to open a grocery store across Marin Boulevard from City Hall, Whole Foods has instead decided to open upone in one of Mack-Cali’s Harborside buildings, near the Hudson River waterfront and light rail access, according to NJ.com, which quotes a Whole Foods spokeswoman as saying that the company is “as committed as ever to bringing the highest-quality natural and organic foods to Jersey City.”
A Whole Foods 365 Market, which is smaller and less expensive than its full-sized store, is scheduled to open in Weehawken in the fall. The downtown Jersey City location is expected to be a full-fledged store.
NJ moving quickly to reap rewards of sports betting
Just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the federal government’s ban on sports betting was unconstitutional, State Senate President Stephen Sweeney introduced legislation to set an 8 percent tax rate on sports gambling in casinos and 12.5 percent online, according to NJ Spotlight. The new revenue would go to programs for senior citizens and the disabled. And, not surprisingly, operators of Atlantic City casinos welcomed the Supreme Court ruling, according to the Press of Atlantic City. Bayonne’s Winner’s Race Track could stand to benefit from the legislation.
Menendez says he’ll fight cuts to superstorm sandy aid
The Trump administration has proposed a $107 million cut to recovery aid for Superstorm Sandy, but Sen. Bob Menendez says he’ll fight it, WHYY reports. The proposed cut is part of the $15 billion recission budget, which is a request to cancel certain appropriations. A Trump administration official said the Sandy money had not been used. Menendez says it should be invested in improved resiliency.
Gov. Murphy approves financial aid for undocumented immigrants
Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law legislation that makes college students who are undocumented immigrants eligible for financial aid, according to NJ Spotlight. The financial aid could be available as soon as this fall. Students must apply to legalize their immigration status before they can receive the aid.
Legislation would make breastfeeding easier at airports
Four Democratic Assemblywomen have proposed legislation that would require airports operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to provide private places inside the secure areas of terminals for nursing mothers to breastfeed or pump their milk, according to NJ Spotlight. The lactation facilities would need to be separate from restrooms. The legislation is scheduled to be reviewed by the Assembly Women and Children Committee.
NJ communities moving to ban plastic bags
In effort to stem pollution, some coastal communities, including Long Beach Township and Harvey Cedars, have moved to ban plastic bags, according to the Press of Atlantic City. Meanwhile, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said last week that he expects the city council to vote on an ordinance within two months that would ban single-use plastic bags. Mayors in other Hudson County cities have alluded to the idea of cutting down on plastics, too. If Jersey City passes a plastics ban, other cities may follow. How the city will structure incentives to nudge residents off plastic bags is not yet decided. In Harvey Cedars, people who buy beach tags receive free reusable bags. Stafford Township in Ocean County is also considering a ban on single-use plastic bags.
NJ’s quick release of gun data acclaimed, criticized
Gov. Phil Murphy’s policy of quickly releasing data on firearms trafficking drew praise and criticism last week, according to the Associated Press. Gun control advocates praised the governor’s release of a report last week that uses federal data to show that 77 percent of guns used in crimes in New Jersey come from out of state. Second Amendment advocates say the state is using the report as a way around limits on the release of some federal data. The state says it will post monthly and quarterly data based on reports from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
NJ considers making beaches no-smoking zones
Smokers who light up on public beaches would be subject to $250 fines if the Legislature passes a measure that is currently making its way through the State Senate, the Courier-Post reports. The bill is intended to protect beach-goers from secondhand smoke and to reduce the amount of litter. The bill would still allow smoking in beach parking lots.