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High School Support Staff Contracts Still on Hold

Negations still unresolved for aides, custodians and cafeteria workers after more than two years.

The Hopatcong High School support staff contracts that have been held up for over two years due to unresolved negotiations about scheduled raises may see an agreement in the next month, District Superintendent Dr. Charles Maranzano said.

The support staff, which includes the aides, custodians and cafeteria workers, went back and forth with the board at Monday night's BOE meeing, trying to work to resolve the ongoing issue, Maranzano said.

The aides, which are in a different bargaining unit other than the adminstration, secretaries, principals, and teachers, have argued that they should receive more than the 1.95 percent pay raise. The custodians and cafeteria workers have agreed to the pay raise, but their contract is held up as well because they're under the same bargaining unit as the aides. 

All other school workers in the different units have agreed to the scheduled pay raise, except for the support staff, which makes up about 90 employees, Maranzano said.

John Ropars, a field representative for the NJEA, which bargains on behalf of Hopatcong staff, said the aides have said they were promised a 2.4 percent increase earlier the negotation process, according to the New Jersey Herald.

Ropars said the aides are low paid in comparison to other districts, and will only settle for the 2.4 increase because that's what they were orginally offered, the report said.

Maranzano said the board wanted to keep the raises under the two percent cap, and that "these aren't the economic times to make leaps in base pay and overall pay."

"It comes down what can we give the unit," he said. "Given the fact that there are 90 of them, we have to hold the line on how we distribute the money."

Some of the aides expressed concern on Monday, saying that they didn't feel valued in the school because of their pay, Maranzano said. Board members commended the support staff and said they are valued and respected in the school, but this is a reflection on the economical times and what they're able to provide, he said.

The next step to resolve the contract issue is for an arbitrator to look at both sides and present a written report. Maranzano said he expects the report to be done either this week or next week.

"We're waiting now to see what an impartial third party says about the reasonableness of our offer," he said.

Maranzano said he hopes for an agreement to be reached by January.

The teachers recently resolved their contract dispute about health care contributions. Until last week, their 1.95 pay raise was withheld since September, but now they will receive the difference in their paychecks.

Nucky Thompson December 20, 2012 at 03:31 PM
C'mon people, can't we resolve this situation with the paraprofessionals et. al.? This is absolutely unacceptable. These are mostly town residents and taypayers who are paid just above minimum wage, with no benefits, and among other important tasks, change diapers for special needs students! Almost three years without a contract? Why would anyone in their right mind want to purchase a home in this town when the school system, and its lowest paid employees, are treated with such distain. http://www.njherald.com/story/20378486/2012/12/18/hpatcong-school-contract-talks-at-a-standstill
Karen Walsh December 20, 2012 at 04:13 PM
The ESPs without a contract are for all the Hopatcong schools, not just the High School as this article states.
Chrissy December 20, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Come on! The support staff is the blood of the school. Without them you would not have a running school! Maranzano is leaving our district because HE isn't getting the salary increase HE would like! How nice it is to retire with a big fat pension! The Admin Dept. gets paid WAY too much! Maranzano makes nearly $200K a year! And he wants to talk about "the board wanted to keep the raises under the two percent cap, and that "these aren't the economic times to make leaps in base pay and overall pay."" Give us a break! Admin Dept. needs to take a pay CUT so that their support staff can be paid more appropriately! A new hired cafeteria workers get paid a little over $7 an hour. You should be ashamed to offer such a ridiculous amount of pay. Then to complain on a 2.4% increase? That isn't even enough! The support staff should just walk out! Let Maranzano feed the kids, he gets paid plenty to do it! How is ANYONE expected to support their families and pay their mortgages on a $7/hr job. What the heck is 2.4% on $7 an hour??? It's $.17 an hour! This school system is penny wise and pound foolish. And they wonder why the voters don't vote YES for the school budget... because WE know where the money is going! The Admin needs to stop padding their own greedy pockets!
The "Original" Hopatcong Mom December 21, 2012 at 08:28 PM
The cafeteria workers are hired at a much higher rate ($12.50) than the paraprofessionals (aides) but still below the poverty level. A new aide in the district starts at $9.28, but raises over the years have been so little that you have aides working in the district for 7 or 8 years making less than $11 per hour and aides in the district over 20 years making $15 hour. The district SHOULD be embarrassed when you look at any other district in our immediate area....maybe they should do their research of local districts! But I will enlighten you (because the Board would never admit they are wrong)!! Randolph: aides start at $15 hr with full benefits Roxbury: aides start at $10.95 hr with full benefits Rockaway: aides start at $18 hr, no benefits Kinnelon: aides start at $17.50 hr, full benefits Vernon: aides start at $16, no benefits Stanhope: aides start at $12.50, no benefits HOPATCONG: Aides start at $9.28, NO BENEFITS!! EMBARRASSING!!!!!!!!!!! And don;t tell me "they should work somewhere else".....why? They ARE Hopatcong tax payers too! Many LOVE to work in their hometown and OUR ESP's are GREAT with HOPATCONG's CHILDREN!!! Wake up and smell the coffee Hopatcong Board of Education....you pay your valuable support staff less than McDonald's does!! You should be ashamed!!
qftl60 December 22, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Since Dr. Maranzano and the Board saw fit to take the time out of their busy schedules to critique the school lunches at the suggestion of a high school student, Mr. Lavery's son if I am not mistaken, why not take the time to spend a day in each special needs classroom as an active participant and then decide whether or not they would do the work put forth by each and every paraprofessional in the district for the same amount of money - the reason we have such a great program is due to the fact that in spite of being disrespected by the Board the paraprofessionals show up every day and give 110% - they truly care and are committed to the children of this community. On another note their taxes have increased yearly and they have not seen one dime of the increases - ludicrous!

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