The Bayonne Board of Education approved new contracts with the school district’s educators and paraprofessionals at the Jan. 5 meeting.
The first contract, for educators, was for the next four years.
Board President Maria Valado said the contract was approved by the Bayonne Education Association (BEA), formerly the Bayonne Teachers Association, prior to the expiration of the current contract.
“We value our teachers, and we are so happy we were able to have a contract six months before the current contract expired,” Valado said.
According to Valado, the board worked with the BEA and the board’s labor lawyers to negotiate the contract.
Educators “are the most important part of our education system,” she said. “They’re the ones in the room making sure our children are taken care of.”
Vice President Christopher Munoz added that this was the first time in 35 years that the board had accomplished this. He credited the board’s negotiation committee, consisting of trustees Lisa Burke, Jodi Casais, and Jan Patrick Egan.
Trustee Egan applauded the effort and added that more contracts will be addressed in the coming months.
The educators’ contract will run from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, 2025. Under the new contract, educators will receive a 3.58 percent pay increase in the first year. For the remainder of the contract, educators will receive a 3 percent pay increase each year.
However, the increases don’t actually translate to a direct raise in an educator’s salary.
The BEA abides by a 15-step salary guide that is agreed upon by the members, and it divvies up the chunk of money allocated for educators based on years of experience. The higher the step, the higher the salary.
The percentage increases are applied to that chunk of money for educators. The new total amount of money will be calculated and distributed to individuals based on their level of seniority.
The second contract was with the Paraprofessional Association. The new contract will last three years, expiring on Aug. 31, 2024.
Matthew Giacobbe, board labor attorney, said the “productive” negotiations yielded fair contracts for both the board and the staff. Giacobbe said the raises are consistent with the going averages across the state for both educator and paraprofessional negotiations.
According to Giacobbe, the contract clarified language regarding health benefits and “the contributions employers are required to make in regard to the educators.” He said the BEA agreed to update that language to protect the board and local taxpayers.
In the paraprofessionals contract, language was clarified so that only employees who work more than 30 hours will receive healthcare benefits.
“The Affordable Care Act has a threshold of 30 hours to qualify for medical coverage,” Giacobbe said. “We updated the language in the paraprofessionals contract so that only those who work more than 30 hours a week will be afforded health care coverage, single only.”
He said that long-term, the contracts are healthy for the board and healthy for Bayonne.
“I thank everybody on the board,” said President of the BEA, Gene Woods. “We appreciate working together with everyone, and we hope we continue to do this moving forward.”
The board will meet again later in January. Meetings are live streamed on the board’s YouTube channel. For more information, go to bboed.org.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.