Newark Teachers Union agrees to new contract with 4.5% raises and $65,000 starting salary

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The Newark Teachers Union has finalized a tentative five-year deal with the Newark Board of Education, featuring an increased starting salary of $65,000 for new teachers, annual raises of 4.5%, and enhanced educator involvement in curriculum and budget decisions, among other terms.

Both the union and district have collaboratively shaped the contract to address the challenge of attracting and retaining teachers within the district, a common concern nationwide.

“We aim to establish a district that is appealing to educators,” stated John Abeigon, the union’s president, during a recent interview with Newark. “While monetary incentives draw new teachers, fostering professionalism and respect retains them. Going forward, teachers will play a significant role in decision-making processes.”

Information sessions will be conducted in the upcoming week, leading up to a ratification vote by 7,000 members on June 6, just prior to the expiration of the current contract next month.

Negotiations commenced in January, culminating in the proposed agreement unveiling 4.5% annual raises over the five-year period, with additional enhancements for educators holding advanced degrees or with extensive service tenure.

The 2019 ratified contract was updated in 2022 to raise the starting salary for new teachers from $55,500 to $62,000 amidst staffing challenges triggered by COVID.

In the envisioned deal, the entry-level salary will rise to $65,000 and peak at $74,000 by the fifth year. Moreover, salary increments are proposed for non-instructional staff, substitutes, and hourly employees, although the specifics have not been disclosed by Abeigon.

At the recent board meeting, Superintendent Roger León and board members extended congratulations to the negotiating teams and union members on the tentative contract.

“When our teachers are content and in good health, they can better serve and provide high-quality education to our students,” remarked co-vice president Vereliz Santana. “Data indicates that teachers are the primary factor affecting academic outcomes.”

One novel aspect of the prospective agreement is the inclusion of classroom teachers in committee meetings determining curricula and school-level budgetary matters, as conveyed by Abeigon.

Teachers will have a voice in shaping the district’s trajectory and will hold a prominent position in decision-making processes, he emphasized.

“After a decade of implementing these changes, I anticipate a complete transformation in the district,” Abeigon stated. “Teachers who are actively engaged, well-informed, and invested will have compelling reasons to remain.”

Furthermore, the contract proposes the establishment of a new child study committee team to ensure that social workers and other staff manage reasonable caseloads and schedules, as highlighted in a press release email by the union.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten lauded the agreement in a statement featured in the recent press release.

“This Newark tentative contract agreement is a game-changer, illustrating a cultural shift where educators and district officials collaborate on strategies, policies, and practices that truly benefit students,” Weingarten affirmed.

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