Teacher Contract Settlement Rates Average 2.42 Percent for 2014-2015
This article originally appeared in School Board Notes on September 11, 2014.
The average public school teacher in New Jersey will receive a 2.42 percent raise in the 2014-2015 school year. That average reflects 324 ratified agreements covering the upcoming school year, including those in the first, second, or third year of the contract.
Many of the contracts contain provisions for longer workdays for teachers, or more instructional time.
Last year, in 2013-2014, the overall settlement rate was 2.29 percent, which included nine contracts with wage freezes.
Settlement rates for 2014-2015 are substantially lower than those seen even just a few years ago. For example, the average salary increase for contracts covering the 2009-2010 school year was 4.23 percent.
Most Still in Negotiation As the new school year begins, many school districts are still negotiating with their teachers’ unions. Out of 206 districts where contracts expired June 30, 2014, approximately 69 percent, or 143, remain unsettled. In addition, approximately 35 districts with contracts that expired in 2013 or earlier still have not settled on new contracts. A number of tentative agreements await ratification.
The large number of districts in negotiations is not unusual. On average, more than 100 districts remain in negotiations at the start of the school year. Last year at this time, 140 school districts, were still at the bargaining table.
In past years, significant numbers of school districts achieved settlements in the fall.
Achievements School boards have been working to secure concessions from their unions, including increased work time and changes in salary policy. Most school boards with settled contracts for 2014-2015 secured such concessions.
Overall, 72 percent of districts with settlements covering 2014-2015 reported some type of union concession. In approximately 37 percent of settled contracts, the board was able to attain more instructional time, up from 30 percent the previous year. Some examples of additional work time include adding days to the school year, adding time to the school day, and/or restructuring the school day to allow for more student-teacher contact.
Approximately one quarter of settled agreements include a salary policy concession. Examples include freezing or eliminating longevity; freezing stipends; and restructuring the salary guide to reduce high increment costs.