West Deptford teachers, district meet to discuss contract

WEST DEPTFORD, N.J. - December 7, 2010

Earlier negotiations failed to reach a new pact so tonight for, the first time, both sides will meet with a fact finder.

There are 3,200 students in the district and while there are no immediate plans for a job action by teachers, there is little doubt that given economic conditions in New Jersey, it is not a good time to negotiate a new deal.

The state cut funding and the district laid off 18 teachers and 22 aides.

"Towns and school districts are held to a 2% increase on the tax rate from the previous year with a few exceptions, so that itself, really limits the amount of space there is for negotiation," West Deptford Superintendent Kevin Kitchenman said.

Teachers are assembling to show support for their negotiating team as both sides meet with the fact finder.

As of now, the starting salary for West Deptford teachers is $52,000 and the highest paid teacher after 15 years with a master's degree is $77,000.

"We've already been given a 1-and-a-half percent decrease and that's on our gross, that's not 1-and-half percent on the health benefits, so we're just looking for something that's fair and equitable that the other people are getting in the county," Denise Vereneault of the West Deptford Education Association said.

By law New Jersey teachers are not permitted to strike, still both sides are working toward a fair deal given some very serious budget constraints.

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