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Contract Dispute May End Soon, Superintendent Says

Negotiations continue as students unable to get letters of recommendation from teachers.

The school board and Hopatcong Education Association may resolve the ongoing dispute over the contract language about health care contributions in the next few weeks.

District Superintendent Dr. Charles Maranzano said both the board and HEA negotiation teams met after last week's board meeting and discussed the dispute that has been holding up the contract raises for this school year.

"I think we're much closer to resolving it than we were prior to the summer," he said. "There was some language exchanged for consideration to resolve the issue."

Maranzano said both sides said they want to try to end the dispute without spending money on lawyers and having to go to hearings for the unfair labor practices.

Both sides filed unfair labor practice charges against the other earlier this year, and are expected to be in court in December.

Maranzano said the board filed their complaint in June when the HEA refused to meet over the summer to discuss the contract adjustments. The board also withheld the scheduled 1.95 percent pay raise that was due at the start of the school year.

In response, the teachers then filed an unfair labor practice against the board in September.

Maranzano said the BOE will drop their complaint if the union does as well.

"We can put those unfair labor practices aside, back pay the teachers, and then we can move on until the next round of contract negotiations," he said.

Once the contract difference is resolved, Maranzano said he expects the board to pay back the teachers what they lost from the withholdings "as rapidly as possible."

The dispute started last spring when the board made adjustments to the contract that was aproved in January. Changes were made to the contract language because of the new state law that required state employees to contribute to their pension and health care benefit programs.

Teachers, in the job action, have been declining to work extra unpaid hours.  for college applications.

Sue Hill, president of the HEA, declined to comment on Thursday.

Rich Lavery, a student liaison to the school board, spoke at last week's meeting and said the resfusal to write recommendation letters are causing students to miss college application deadlines.

Maranzano said that he, Principal Noreen Lazariuk and Director of Guidance Gina Cinotti have been writing letters for students who need them.

"We didn't want any student not to have a letter of recommendation," he said.

Lynn Anne Cutler November 30, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Much of our community understands how valuable our teachers are to our students and to the well being of the community at large. It sickens me that the school board has the power to withhold the contract that controls their livelihood over nitpicking. Get over yourselves and treat our teachers the way you'd want to be treated.
Jimbo November 30, 2012 at 11:52 AM
They won't write letters of recommendation??? Isn't it always about the kids ? What a bunch of self important turds ! Get rid of them all and start from scratch.
David DiChiara November 30, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Teachers are there for ...THE KIDS....because they are rewarded by their teaching experience....lol...sorry, meant the summer off ,holidays off...free to almost nothing insurance,...automatic pay raises and tenure that can't remove a crappy teacher....!!!
BeachBum November 30, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Don't forget Hopatcong - Camden Schools rate much better than Hopatcong Schools
Concerned Citizen November 30, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Beach that is false. David, jealous? Sounds like you should have got into education. Truth is your town is pathetic for not supporting its education system.
MomOf2 November 30, 2012 at 06:14 PM
The school was the 289th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 328 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2012! Now our children need a better education. Something needs to change and quickly!!! Its not just the teachers, its the parents and it the community. Actions!!!
Elizabeth November 30, 2012 at 06:18 PM
the truth is somewhere in the middle. Teacher pay frequently reflects the fact that they have summers off. Most teachers opt to have a 9 month salary paid over 12 months. Imagine how much more expensive teachers would be if you actually paid them a 12 month salary. While unionization may drive some salary debate, the scales in place reflect the level of education one must attain to be able to be hired as a f/t perm. teacher. Think about it this way - do you want a chiropracter doing brain surgery? Cause the chiropractor will do your lobotomy for $35 in an office visit. But, the neurosurgeon will charge you $35,000 and put you in ICU to recover. No, I'm not a teacher. I don't live in Hopatcong. I'm a school board member in another state. While Hopatcong is living this debate in real time, these types of issues are front and center on the national scene.
MomOf2 November 30, 2012 at 06:21 PM
The school was the 289th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 328 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2012! Now our children need a better education. Something needs to change and quickly!!! Its not just the teachers, its the parents and it the community. Actions!!!
Hopatcongpop November 30, 2012 at 07:15 PM
@mom of 2... A new task force is in place that is made up of 50 parents in town. This is a start of hopefully a huge change in our system.
Joanne Belmonte November 30, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Give the teachers what they deserve. My two daughters received an excellent education in Hopatcong Public Schools, got accepted to all of their colleges, and graduated from their colleges with honors in four years. School is what you make of it. Hopatcong has an outstanding teaching staff. Treat them like the professionals they are!
The "Original" Hopatcong Mom December 01, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Joanne, I could not agree with you more! I attended HHS and did well and had a great experience! Now both my children are in HHS, both honor roll students and have AWESOME teachers!! I wish EVERYONE would STOM BLAMING TEACHERS for their children's failures!! Whether you agreee or not education starts at home!! Parents need to focus on what their children are doing at home (ie: homework, studying) in order for them to succeed at school! Stop blaming the teachers because your kids fail!! Your kids fail because they don't want to learn! A teacher cannot force a child to learn just encourage it....the PARENTS need to set guidelines and rules in order for their children to do well! For example: my children cannot go anywhere at night unless their homework is done (go to powerschool parent, homeowrk and grades are always listed...every night), my children are not allowed to fail any tests or get lower than a "C" in order to participate in sports or afterschool activities. MORE PARENTS need to be pro-active in their children's education and stop relying on teacher's to do your job of ensuring they are doing their best!!! GRRRRRRRR! Done venting!! HOPATCONG TEACHRES ROCK!!! After all we did have NJ Teacher of the Year!!!
T Zinger December 02, 2012 at 01:35 AM
How can there teachers be so selfish and take this out on the kids? They have refused to write the letters for the students! Poor lesson to teach the kids. Talk about acting like spoiled brats having temper tantrums because they aren't getting their way. That speaks volumes about where their hearts are and how selfish they truly are. Also, don't forget to point out their bullying tactics since teachers were warned to not help w/ any other functions and to not write the letters. What a terrible way to treat others. Pay towards your health care. Why should you be exempt from that? Do you even know what most people pay for their healthcare? You might be surprised... but you need to do your homework to find the answers to this question!
T Zinger December 02, 2012 at 01:45 AM
How can *these* teachers be so selfish...
Sam December 03, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Teachers live in this "dreamworld"..where nothing is at risk even when they do things that hurt kids..Some are there for the kids but those who are not need to get out. Thankfully, this will be changing soon and those who have had unfair protection will be exposed.

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