Midland Park October 7, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 5 The Midland Park Education Association (MPEA) and the Midland Park Board of Education announced last week that they have collaborated on a one-year bargaining agreement providing a one-step increment adjustment to members’ salaries for the 2009-10 school year. Teachers, secretarial/clerical and custodial/maintenance employees are all covered by the agreement. The agreement was reached last spring, with the 150member MPEA ratifying it in early May and the board voting to accept the same agreement at the end of the school year in June. The one-year pact included a raise for less than the county average - increment only for staff members on the guide and $1,000 for those employees at the top of the guide. The less than budgeted increase provided the board of education with the means to avoid the reduction of any teacher or instructional aide positions, according to a statement issued jointly by the union and the board last week. “Instead of letting things come to a head, the MPEA and the board thought it would be better to move forward for one year. It was kind of a mutual moment of clarity,” said MPEA vice-president and chief negotiator, David Marks, Teachers’ union working under contract extension citing a tenuous economy. The 2008-09 agreement was also an extension from the previous contract. According to the statement, the new contract also contains several provisions and understandings which will advance curriculum and instruction in the district. A new structure for curriculum writing is one of those improvements. “We are really excited about this,” said MPEA President Maureen Donatien. “These new provisions spell out how the development of new curriculum will be handled. It will empower our teachers to grow and stay current with teaching methodology. Plus, it will provide us with a way to maintain our curriculum with the state standards.” In addition, as part of the contract talks, the MPEA endorsed increased efforts to integrate the fine arts and core subject areas (e.g., music and history.) “Such collaboration could create a more exciting approach to curriculum presentations, while simultaneously increasing instructional time for the basics,” said board trustee Wayne Roberts, the district’s chief negotiator. “The board and I were quite receptive to the new proposals of the one-year agreement,” said Board President Rich Venditti, applauding the collaborative results. “We were able to save instructional positions as well as educational programs. In addition, our instructional aides will now be required to participate in the same professional development as our teachers. This can only enhance their fine performance with out students.” According to Venditti, negotiations for a successor agreement will continue this fall. “There is still some important language that needs to be developed to move the district forward,” the board president said. “We’re going to keep working,” Marks was quick to note. Roberts concurred. “… we are picking up where we left off. Each side is keeping its team intact, maintaining the continuity of our discussions. We’re aiming for a three-year deal this time around. I think we’ve built a solid foundation that will facilitate a collaborative spirit as we move forward.” Under the extended contract, there is no change in health or other benefits, according to school Business Administrator Stacy Garvie. Salaries for teaching staff range from (continued on page 17) Decorate Your Fall Home with Decorators’ Kit Fall Colors! $ Does Your Child Want to Be a Designer? We can teach her the fundamentals of sewing to unleash her creativity. 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