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Schools Superintendent: No Pay Increase for Substitute Teachers

School board 11-14-131

Gail Reicheg, the school district’s personnel director, talks to the Board of Education about substitute teacher pay at the Nov. 14 work session.

The school district administration will not support a requested reversal of a pay cut instituted this year for substitute teachers, schools Superintendent Edward Seto said Nov. 14.

Nor will the administration support a previously promised bonus for those substitute teachers who worked more than 120 days in the 2012-2013 school year, he said.

“I’m not recommending it,” he said after the Board of Education’s work session.

“We don’t have the budget for it,” Seto said. “Not that it’s not important, but we have even more pressing staffing needs.”

The district’s substitute teachers have been lobbying the school board since August to restore the pay rates in effect last year, and to give some teachers promised pay raises.

At the Oct. 17 board meeting, board president Julia Presley said the board’s personnel committee would take a fresh look at the issue.

But there were no recommendations forthcoming from the committee head, Richard Arline, at the Nov. 14 work session, and no such proposal was included in the draft agenda for the Nov. 21 board meeting.

Nor is one likely, if Seto maintains his position.

Presley said in an email that “(w)hen the board receives a recommendation from Mr. Seto it will be discussed in Personnel committee and a recommendation will be made to the full board for discussion and action.”

The teachers have argued that prior to the 2012-2013 school year, they were promised in writing that if they worked at least 120 days during that school year, they would be eligible for a per diem pay rate of $110 during this school year.

The letter also promised a tiered pay scale, ranging from $90 to $110 a day for teachers holding degrees to $80 to $100 a day for those with no degree, but with at least 60 college credits.

But the pay scale the board approved at its June 25 meeting set a flat rate of $95 a day for teachers with teaching certifications and $85 a day for teachers with a substitute certification.

That spurred breach of contract charges by some substitute teachers, some of whom said they gave up vacations and made changes in their personal lives during the 2012-2013 school year to meet the 120-day minimum.

During the Nov. 14 work session, Gail Reicheg, the district’s personnel director, told the board that there was no breach of contract, and that restoring the pay cuts would be expensive.

The letter “was issued to teachers prior to the start of the 2012-2013 school year,” she said. The statement “was not issued to teachers for the current school year, the 2013-2014 school year. Substitute teachers were notified via letter in August that the substitute rates for 2013-2014 were changed, and Mr. Brian Bonanno, the manager of administrative services, spoke with the board attorney … (who) confirmed that there is no breach of contract on this matter.”

Reicheg noted that at the Oct. 17 meeting, Franklin Township Education Association president Lorri Mountainland volunteered to poll other Somerset County school districts to find out what they pay their substitute teachers.

“She received responses from 10 Somerset County districts,” Reicheg said. “The reported substitute rates ranged between $80 to $90 per diem. Somerset County Vocational Technical School reported a per diem rate of $100 and the rate for Watching Hills is a range of $80 to $100 per diem.”

Giving teachers who worked at least 120 days during the 2012-2013 school year the previously promised raise of $110 would cost the district an estimated $139,120, she said.

There were no comments or questions from board members after Reicheg’s presentation.

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