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Same-Day Extra Help Hurts Students, Kinnelon BOE Member Says

Superintendent said teachers are 'exercising the language of their contract' in only offering extra help on Thursdays.

Several members expressed their disappointment Thursday night in Kinnelon teachers grades 6 through 12 who have decided to offer after-school extra help just one day a week and on the same day.

Board Member Katie Stylianou said she had heard "buzz" in the community that teachers were only staying late to offer extra help on Thursdays. Interim Superintendent of Schools Diane DiGiuseppe confirmed Stylianou's concerns and said the teachers were "exercising the language in their contracts."

Stylianou said the actions of the teachers were "very sad" and "now they're going to hurt the same children that they're professing to help." She said she was concerned about the students.

"We're worried about getting them this contract but they're hurting our children," she said.

The Kinnelon teachers and Kinnelon Education Association (KEA) have with the Kinnelon Board of Education on a new contract for more than a year. Board Member Keith Dama, who chairs the board's negotiations committee, updated the board at Thursday night's meeting that a fact-finder had come in and met with both parties during a hearing in August. Last week, Vickie Walsh, a field representative for the New Jersey Education Association who is representing the KEA in negotiations, said "the parties were not able to settle on their own."

The fact-finder was scheduled to begin preparing a non-binding report, but Dama said both parties decided to submit briefs to the fact-finder before the report was written. The briefs are due by Oct. 1. Walsh said the report may not be issued before November or December, possibly pushing negotiations back closer to the new year.

"We're just in a holding pattern," she said.

DiGiuseppe said the language in the expired contract teachers are still operating under says they are to provide at least one day of extra help after school during a weekday of their choosing. The district supplements this extra help with math and language help sessions that are stipend-paid and DiGiuseppe said these sessions will be scheduled on alternate days from the one day the teachers are offering extra help.

Board President Margaret Zybrick also expressed her disappointment in the actions of the teachers. She said the board "attempted to open every door" to the KEA during negotiations but that they have been unable to reach an agreement.

"The reality is they're using this as a tool to force our hands at things we can't do," she said.

Dama mentioned the 2 percent state-mandated cap which the district is restricted by in raising its budget. Because of the cap, Dama said the district is limited in its capacity to spend.

"After we pay for health costs, there's less and less money to pay for everything the school district needs," he said.

Board Member Denise Hatch said the board was in a difficult position because of the 2 percent cap.

"I don't know where you get money where there isn't," she said.

Board Member Marianne DeAlessi said she thinks the actions of the teachers will not only negatively affect students, but the teachers, themselves, as well.

"We're going to see test scores go down and it's going to be a reflection of the teachers," she said.

DeAlessi also said the teachers' decision implies disinterest in their chosen careers.

"I think it shows their level of commitment to their profession," she said. "This is certainly a lack of professionalism."

Best Teachers September 14, 2012 at 02:41 PM
What about the level of commitment to the teachers own families! Don't you realize that teachers have children also. Don't you realize that these teachers must get home to meet their kids getting off the bus, then help them with their homework, take their kids to their sports, cook dinner, do the laundry, clean the house, do the food shopping, put their kids to bed, pay the bills, grade papers and then finally fall into bed so they can do it all again the next day... "AND MAKE KINNELON #5 IN THE STATE!!". Where is the gratitude for the excellent work performed by these teachers? Great idea to the brainiac who thinks firing the cream of the crop teachers will somehow benefit the students!?! You must be the same type of person who chooses a contractor based on the lowest bid and then gets upset with the crappy workmanship. Always remember, you get what you pay for. I'm sure the parents who are complaining about the teachers earning too much, will be sending their kids off to community college to save money.
Teech September 14, 2012 at 02:59 PM
I teach and I do not get it. Kinnelon residents can afford the increase in taxes. I do not understand why the BOE will not just raise taxes the full 2% and increase activity fees to make up the difference to give teachers what they deserve. Kinnelon Parents can afford it. They can pay for nice cars, sports trainers and tutors for their kids. What is a few extra bucks to reward all of the teachers that just have done a great job?
Larry Huyler September 14, 2012 at 03:39 PM
After you read all the teacher bashing comments there should be no question in one's mind why there are less and less people wanting to go into the teaching profession. But look on the bright side. Within the next decade you will be having your children taught by automatons who only do what and when they are programmed to. So, instead of seeing a smiling face each morning, students will just be met by a couple of cold emotionless LED's and an electronically simulated voice. Then, instead of bashing the teachers, you can bash their programmers.
Concerned Resident September 14, 2012 at 03:50 PM
The funniest thing about this entire article is the people who bash teachers “COULD NEVER DO WHAT TEACHERS DO"! For the amount of money teachers make, the majority of them cannot even afford to own a home by themselves. I never understood how parents can sit there and BASH the entire Education system because they think that teachers are holding the kids hostage over there benefits and salaries. The real fact is without the teachers working everyday and dealing with disruptions like these that are out there for everyone to see, blows my mind. Don't you want your kids to be smart and be able to make 250K a year or more. So they don’t have to worry about anything in LIFE, that's the GOAL, not whether or not a teacher should work for free during the week. When's the last time you went to work on the weekends and told your boss don't worry about paying me? I personally know plenty of teachers who spend their hard earned "MONEY" on the kids because the school districts don’t have the extra petty cash to fund half of the programs or ideas that go along with teaching. If you want to express your concerns and make changes to the system, then you need to attend Board meetings and express your opinion in a reasonable manor.
St A's Parent September 14, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Teech/Best Teacher...I'm a parent in Kinnelon and let me let you in on a little secret we are all not rich. I work my, husband works, and I have 3 children I leave my house at 7 AM and get home 5:30 and I have to do all the same things that you do....cook, clean, take the kids to practice... the extra help is for an hour afterschool when needed. We are not asking the teachers to stay until 6 everyday. Also, we already pay to play in Kinnelon and pay our fair share of taxes. We are asking the teachers for 1 hour to help the kids that need it. Not all the moms in Kinnelon are stay at home moms the same way you don't like to be stereotyped don't do the same with the parents. By the way I don't think teachers earn enough and I think we have great teachers in Kinnelon but I don't what my child to suffer in your battle with the Board of Ed There has to be a better way then what we are doing now...Teachers bashing parents and parents bashing teachers becuase the only ones suffering are the ones that need us both. OUR CHILDREN!!!
Curious September 14, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Well said Larry. Thank you. Momof3... I don't know if it's so much parents bashing teachers as much as it is politiciains bashing teachers....
empty wallet September 14, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Teacher, I don't know if you are really a teacher or just trolling but I live in Kinnelon-have lived here for 20 years. My kids went through the Kinnelon school system that my husband and I helped build through volunteering. Where do you come off saying that we "can afford" a tax increase? I can assure you my children didn't use the "professionals" you listed (which many are Kinnelon teachers and get paid cash). BTW, there are many great teachers in Kinnelon, not all are union drones, in this economy teachers should be looking for ways to save not ways to steal out of the Kinnelon taxpayers wallets-some which are already empty. I'd be happy to sell you my house.
Exactly September 14, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Exactly. Teech/Best comments were pretty ignorant. While of course there are "wealthy" people. Many are hardworking "normal" people, not trust fund fat cats like that post would have you believe. It just goes to show the entitlement attitude prevalent in today's society: 1. Dont say anything bad about me or my profession. 2. I am free to make those same statements about you however. 3. I have xyz benefit. They have had it forever, it can never be taken away. The teachers in town do a great job, but I think the vast majority of the public is suprised how out of touch they are. They have it REALLY REALLY good compared to most private sector folks, but the way they complain you would think they are being paid minimum wage, working slave hours with no benefits.....
Debbie O'Neill September 14, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Interestly Larry, your post raises some good points that certainly warrant a closer look. The reality is that things change: economically, socially, technologically, etc. Unions probably can't/won't survive forever - I don't think society and/or the economy will be able to continue to support them (but that's another discussion for another day, and I'm sure it will be a rousing one :) ) Education won't and can't remain unchanged. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that more and more education will be done on-line via the web, etc. Right now, all of the corporate training in my place of business is web-based, and I would venture to say that this is true in many places of business. On-line courses are available at most, if not all colleges, and now we have universities and colleges that are solely on-line. Many of my daughter's high school classes are supplemented by web-based training programs. This type of training (web-based, video, etc) is growing more and more popular as the demand for lower-cost educational options grows. And many people prefer these types of training options because most can be completed at the user's own speed. Personally, I find it more than acceptable. Not saying that I wish to see the teaching profession become obsolete (nor do I think it will), but we certainly have to consider that the traditional methods (of having a teacher in front of a class) will be probably be changing radically in the not-too-distant future...
Debbie O'Neill September 14, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Interestingly Larry, your post raises some good points that certainly warrant a closer look. The reality is that things change: economically, socially, technologically, etc. Unions probably can't/won't survive forever - I don't think society and/or the economy will be able to continue to support them (but that's another discussion for another day, and I'm sure it will be a rousing one :) ) Education won't and can't remain unchanged. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that more and more education will be done on-line via the web, etc. Right now, all of the corporate training in my place of business is web-based, and I would venture to say that this is true in many places of business. On-line courses are available at most, if not all colleges, and now we have universities and colleges that are solely on-line. Many of my daughter's high school classes are supplemented by web-based training programs. This type of training (web-based, video, etc) is growing more and more popular as the demand for lower-cost educational options grows. And many people prefer these types of training options because most can be completed at the user's own speed. Personally, I find it more than acceptable. Not saying that I wish to see the teaching profession become obsolete (nor do I think it will), but we certainly have to consider that the traditional methods (of having a teacher in front of a class) will be probably be changing radically in the not-too-distant future...
The Gman September 14, 2012 at 06:32 PM
I believe the teaches in Kinnelon do a fantastic job. However, the system which compensates school staff as it currently exists, cannot be sustained. As in private industry, we have to do more with less, this is a function of the economic environment and should not be taken as an attack on any individual or group.
Andy September 14, 2012 at 06:36 PM
I personally think that, as in any "company" you have some people at the top who make way to much money, you have some who have outlived their usefulness and should be put out to pasture but, have been there so long, they're left alone. Then you have the work force who do all the work and don't get compensated and are always having to defend their positions and their worth to the overall scheme of things ... But, the world that we live in now has changed significantly over the last few years; in years past you took a public service job at a lesser salary but, you didn't have to pay for your benefits, your pension, etc. You put your 20 in and you got out, It was a trade off and was fair, everyone felt that they were being treated fairly... over the years, the union fought for better salaries, more benefits, etc. Older, tenured teachers; stopped or slowed their retirements so now there are teachers with 20+ years in pulling down good bank, not paying any benefits and sticking it out for optimum payout... financially we the people can't afford it any more so, what needs to happen is the ones that need to go should go (and all you other teacher types know who they are) raises need to be given to help offset the deductions for benefits and pension and any new hires start off with a reasonable salary paying for their fair share of their benefits, just as is done in the private sector.
Andy September 14, 2012 at 06:37 PM
That's fair to everyone, those who have been in there plugging away helping the children, nurturing the children don't take a hit due to their increase. By of letting go of the older teachers with the steep salaries it helps off set the increases and the residents don't take the hit. It's a fair and equitable solution for everyone. I'm no financial guy but, it seems like it could work and be fair to everyone as well as being the best for the kids... Just my opinion
Exactly September 14, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Agree GMan. No one likes to lose their "awesome benefits", but its a sign of the times. The current system is just not sustainable. I can understand them not wanting to lose something, but they should really look at it as they had a good run, now it's time to join the real world. Many people who pay tons to health insurance (not 1.5%), have taken paycuts, work more hours, etc. Yet our local union here wants more raises, more benefits, etc. etc. It just seems they are out of touch with the norm of modern day business in our current environment.
Exactly September 14, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Couldn't agree more Andy. You laid it out pretty clearly. Years ago the benefits were a counter to the lower pay. Now they have both, with the more tenured teachers really skewing things and distorting the picture. Bottom line, the good old days of great benefits, great salary, great time off need to be revisited in light of our current world. They just dont make sense.
Dad of 3 September 14, 2012 at 07:24 PM
you talk about wallstreet greed. I see the pot calling the kettel black. Just do the math 3 months a year off. More holidays and vac days then most jobs. Personal days. 7 hrs a day plus lunch. Benefits. Pention. Etc. Tenure (pure BS) who gets that beside congress. Pure greed. If your not making enough money find another job and then you can really cry and feel like you are being taken advantage of.
3 boys September 14, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Look at the article printed last June which list all the salaries of our teacher/admin. The physical Ed teacher for Stonybrook makes over $98,000 a year while other fabulous young teachers make half that. I'm not bashing teachers. I was a teacher. The system as to change to like "Andy " stated above. http://triboro.patch.com/articles/salary-breakdown-kinnelon-district-office-2
Exactly September 14, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Thats the root of taxpayers concern. Look at those salaries. >80k for MANY. Plus all the benefits, time off, sick days, cant get fired (without a big legal battle), etc. Thats the root of the problem. This is not how any successful business operates in the current environment. Hopefully we the tax payers and the administration stick to their guns. We need to have some fiscal responsibility brought into the equation.
The Gman September 14, 2012 at 08:04 PM
After reading all the comments posted regarding this topic, I can see why we can't settle on a contract. This is simply a business transaction, by making inflammatory comments, the contract issues will never be resolved. The private sector is suffering from an economic down turn and all of industry does more with less in order to survive. It is difficult when an individual's compensation is compromised and this is an unfortunate situation. However, the BOE must stay the course, in an effort to correct an unsustainable system.
St A's Parent September 14, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Hi Chief, I make 60K per year I do not get a Christmas bonus, stock options, nor any bonus for that matter. I work from 8:30AM -5pm 5 days per week I do not get winter break, spring break, or summer break. I have not received a raise in about 3 years. I am grateful to have a job and if my boss needs me to stay an extra hour per week you better believe that I would do it because I do not have tenure and unemployment doesn’t pay my bills. Since I am salary I do not get paid over time and I can’t bill anyone for my overtime it’s expected if they need me I stay . In this day in age most private sector employees are happy to have a paycheck period. I don’t know nor care what happens at BMW I don’t drive one nor can I afford one why are we comparing what BMW offers to what teachers get. As far as the $80 bill for the hour the teacher should bill me for I’m sure the over 12K in property taxes I pay should cover that. PS my child does not get tennis lessons and if my child needs help with homework I ‘m the tutor. If you rather teach tennis then maybe you should because you seem to be more angry then most of the all the others posting on this article. I respect the teaching profession but it seems that you do not respect anyone else’s.
St A's Parent September 14, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Chief commented on Same-Day Extra Help Hurts Students, Kinnelon BOE Member Says, which you are following. "50% of 1st year teachers leave the profession by their 5th year for other professions. A profession that loses over half the people certified for it cannot be a picnic. These articles never reveal all the details of their contract proposal. I've heard this board or someone on it was requesting that teachers have no sick days and if they use one they will have to pay a sub out of pocket. Lastly, nobody on earth will give a damn about teachers wearing a colored shirt and rallying in groups. Christie sure doesn't. So what other option would you like? A strike? Chicago ? These teachers still go to work and work very hard after reading an article like this. Start respecting this as a profession. It's not a teenage job, or a college job, it's a career. Compare apples to apples the qualifications of teachers and the private sector. Stock options? Christmas bonuses? Paid vacations/dinner/travel? BMW gives out pensions available for claim after 2 years go yell at them. Everyone's just mad cause its paid for in the form of taxes. You can be mad all you want about tutoring on 1 day. How about the teacher sends you a bill for that 1 hour for $80, oh sorry overtime tutoring through the school is more like $35. $35 doing overtime tutoring vs. $75 giving tennis lessons, I'd rather teach your kids tennis than make them any smarter."
Cathy Gurbisz September 15, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Local taxes can no longer support the contract. Monthly taxes are creeping up and sometimes exceeding the monthly mortgage. It is not the teacher, it is the contract. This is what the BOE is standing up to. I have read surrounding town’s contracts and see what is hidden inside them. Benefits equaling over 35% of salary. Im talking a family plan, (medical, dental and prescription) totaling over $32,000.00 per year. There are also grandfathered benefits, that create dramatic tiers of who gets what, always favoring senior staff while offering less and less to new teachers. Often the same staff that is most directly and financially benefiting from the contract are also on the BEA committee holding strong at the negotiation table. Everyone should ask for a copy of their town’s contract and educate themselves on the real deal within.
Then Move September 15, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Guess what! Your taxes are based on the appraised value of your home. You live in Kinnelon with a top notch school system. If you want to pay less in taxes then move to Irvington and see what quality of education your child receives.
Larry Huyler September 15, 2012 at 04:48 AM
What we have here is a situation where one side wants to keep or add more money and benefits and the other side saying there's not enough $$ to do it. It has always been this way since man first hired someone to work for them. Everyone fails to remember that this is Kinnelon. There are not many tax revenue generating busineses in this town so everything must be made up in taxes. When one's property taxes (divided by 12) exceeds their monthly mortgage payment you have to wonder how long will they continue to struggle before the system breaks down and the people move out. Look at any community with little or no tax revenue generating businesses and they are in the same boat and they want the same thing - more city employees (BOE included) to work more for less. The haves vs the have nots. If I don't have it why should you is the prevalent thinking nowadays. There is no happy medium.
Chilled September 15, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Maybe it is time for the BOE to order the administration to enforce every aspect of the contract. For example the countless teachers that show up late, do not hand in lesson plans, leave early etc. contracts are a two way street. We all know the union is there to protect the worst teachers. The good teachers do not need a union or tenure. We have some horrible teachers that can not be fired. Some of those earn the top salaries and even lead the union. If they want to be unionized then let them work out of a union hall we pay them only when they are needed and if they aren't good we send them back to the hall and we get another till we find the right one. I'm sure Tommy boy of the Kea has instructed teachers that are real professionals not to do one thing extra. If it is not in the contract. Now it's time for the district to enforce every page of the contract we all know the weak building administrators don't have the back bone to do it.
Then Move September 16, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Guess what! Your taxes are based on the appraised value of your home. You live in Kinnelon with a top notch school system. If you want to pay less in taxes then move to Irvington and see what quality of education your child receives.
Then Move September 16, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Guess what! Your taxes are based on the appraised value of your home. You live in Kinnelon with a top notch school system. If you want to pay less in taxes then move to Irvington and see what quality of education your child receives.
Best Teachers September 16, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Guess what! Your taxes are based on the appraised value of your home. You live in Kinnelon with a top notch school system. If you want to pay less in taxes then move to Irvington and see what quality of education your child receives.
sunny September 16, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Teech, contrary to what you think not all Kinnelon residents buy their kids new cars, send to expensive clinics, etc. Yes, there are a lot of people with high salaries in Kinnelon but there is a very large group of people here who live in modest homes and live paycheck to paycheck or at the least scrimp and sacrifice so our children can get a good education and have a safe environment to grow up in.There are many parents who can not afford more tax increases. I am very tired of everyone lumping all of Kinnelon together in their statements"Kinnelon can afford it". Bottom line, we are living in tough economic times and we all our sacrificing, many of us have not had a raise or maybe a 1% raise in the last few years and all of our expenses have gone up. Both sides should buckle down and get this resolved before it gets worse.
NJ Taxpayer September 18, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Do you work in the district? How do you know about Late Teachers? Lesson plans not handed in? Teachers leaving early? Where are you pulling this info..? As far as anything extra...a contract is a contract. Would you hire a contractor to build an addition on your home and expect him to redo your entire house? No...a contract is a contract. Nothing more, nothing less.

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