The Board of Education has accepted the findings of the state mediator brought in to settle the contract between the district and the bargaining unit that represents educational support personnel and other support staff.
Board president Clifford Lundin said the board instructed its attorney to meet with Hopatcong Educators Association negotiators to set in motion the final steps that would lead to a settlement of the contract.
The unit represents about 80 aides and 40 custodians and support staff.
The contract was the last one to be settled.
Contracts for teachers in the same union took effect in September but a dispute over language regarding new health benefits led to picket lines at board meetings and student complaints that letters of recommendation for college admission were being delayed.
The dispute was settled once students made their complaints public.
Hopatcong Education Association president Susan Hill said Thursday she was pleased the board accepted the mediator’s finding, and looked forward to getting the contract approved.
Lundin said Thursday that the mediator’s decision was not yet public, but generally a mediator picks a number somewhere in between those offered by either side.
Last summer when the contract dispute over the health benefits language surfaced, Lundin said the union had been seeking a $1.60 per hour increase for the aides. The board offered $0.95 per hour, he said.