Newark Public Schools (NPS) and the Newark Teachers Union (NTU) have reached a tentative agreement for a contract that prioritizes student achievement, promotes teachers’ professional growth and financially rewards teachers based on experience and performance, the two groups announced in a joint press release.
The current contract expired July 1, 2010, and the new agreement will be in effect until June 30, 2015.
The agreement will allow NPS to make dramatic improvements in attracting, evaluating, rewarding and retaining great teachers. The tentative contract, announced today during a signing ceremony, was negotiated by a team headed by Joseph Del Grosso, president of the NTU/AFT, and Cami Anderson, superintendent of NPS. AFT President Randi Weingarten and Chris Cerf, state education commissioner, also played critical roles in the negotiations.
The agreement includes a new universal salary scale that values experience and performance and makes Newark teachers among the highest paid in the country. NTU President Joseph Del Grosso said:
We believe this proposed agreement respects teachers as professionals and is good for the students and families who are the heart of Newark’s public schools. The negotiation was a collaborative process with Superintendent Anderson and her team that resulted in an outcome designed to improve teaching and learning in all Newark’s schools.
The TEACH NJ bill recently passed by the state legislature created an evaluation frame. Together, the district and NTU built upon that frame to include ongoing development and supports for teachers and a role for educators in the evaluation process. The goal is to develop and implement a system that is rigorous, transparent and fair, and that gives both administrators and teachers accurate information on teacher performance and ongoing feedback that enhances teacher performance and rewards teacher quality.
“I applaud Joe and his team for their leadership and their tireless efforts on behalf of our great teachers and students in the district,” says NPS Superintendent Anderson.
It was never an either/or negotiation. The focus has been and remains on ensuring that we have an outstanding educator in every classroom—and this agreement goes a long way toward helping us create the conditions for that success.
The agreement adds $100 million of new money into teacher compensation; approximately half of which will be funded through NPS resources and the balance in philanthropic resources. This includes rewards and incentive payments, which will be led by the Foundation for Newark's Future.
The major provisions of the agreement include:
- Teacher Evaluation, Feedback and Support: The contract adds checks and balances to the district’s new evaluation system to ensure that teachers get the feedback, support and fair ratings they deserve. If a teacher feels he or she has been evaluated unfairly, there is due process and recourse through a new joint oversight committee and a team of peer validators.
- Compensation and Benefits: The contract provides for retroactive pay for all NPS members and a new universal salary scale that will replace the separate lanes tied to academic degrees and will recognize both experience and performance. The new scale will help teachers earn more money earlier in their careers, and offer bonuses up to $12,500 for all teachers rated “highly effective.” Teachers rated “partially effective” or “ineffective” are not entitled to an increase.
- School Empowerment and Flexibility: Under the new contract, teachers will have greater flexibility in school-based decisions and will be able to seek waivers from the collective bargaining agreement.
- Turnaround Schools: Schools in need of dramatic improvement, identified as Turnaround Schools, will have additional flexibility, such as longer work days and additional pay for staff.
Other notables include a streamlined hiring process with vacancies posted online, incentives for early notification of retirements so hiring can be accelerated, a donated sick leave bank for staff facing serious medical conditions and greater flexibility regarding school schedules.