After 18 months of working without a contract, dozens of Kearny teachers attended last night’s board of education meeting, urging the board to take action.
“We’re going into our second year without a contract, we’ve been negotiating for 18 months, and the board is claiming [they have] no money and budget cuts. And we obviously need to get some relief so teachers can start making a living,” Kearny Education Association President Marcy Fisher told HCV.
“The most troubling [thing] is that it has taken so long. We have been meeting for 18 months, we are now going into mediation – we have a meeting set with a state mediator for this Wednesday – and we’re hoping he can bring us closer on the big issues: time, money, benefits.”
When asked if the KEA had considered a strike as potential option, she said “at this point, nothing is off the table.”
Around 75 teachers attended last night’s meeting, which was originally scheduled to be held at BOE headquarters at 172 Midland Ave., but the board decided to move the meeting at the last minute based on the amount of public interest in the meeting.
A sign posted at the BOE headquarters last night indicated that the meeting had been moved to Lincoln Middle School, located at 121 Beech St.
The meeting was originally scheduled for last week, but it was cancelled when the number of attendees at the BOE headquarters created a fire hazard, forcing a postponement.
Despite the large number of attendees, only a handful of teachers and/or parents approached the podium to address the board, all asking for a resolution on the teachers’ contract as soon as possible.
“Well it’s become frustrating because this is our second time that we’ve had to negotiate for a very long time to get a contract. Last time around, we were without one for two-and-a-half years, had it for half a year, and we’re right back where we started in negotiations,” explained Laurie Keim, the Crisis Action Committee chair for the KEA.
“So I think people are tired of having to fight for what they feel they are due and maybe just fight for the respect that I think we all deserve.
Keim also said that Kearny teachers are in desperate need of Chapter 78 relief, a familiar cry among educators throughout the state, noting that they haven’t seen an increase in their pay in at least eight years.
Just prior to the start of the meeting, Kearny BOE Counsel Ken Lindenfelser said that HCV wasn’t allowed to record the meeting without prior approval from the board secretary and no exceptions could be made.
The board’s policy, adopted on October 19th, 2009 and revised on July 27th, 2015, says that “the Board will permit the use of video recording devices only when notice of such intended use has been given to the Board Secretary in advance of the meeting.”
“The Board Secretary or designee shall review the video recording guidelines with the person requesting to video record. Prior notice is not required to audio record a meeting. All audio and video recording devices shall be silent in operation, inoffensive, and unobtrusive.”