Things looking gloomy for Delsea teachers’ contract

Posted: November 30, 2011 by vindanton in Franklin Twp.

Superintendent sees no end in sight

By Vin D’Anton – Franklin Twp. Blogger

Franklin Twp. – Earlier this month on November 8th, 2011 at the Delsea Board of Education meeting, the citizens of Franklin Township made their opinions known; they wanted their “great” teachers taken care of.

Perhaps the biggest issue in Franklin this year, the teachers in the Delsea School District have been without a contract for two years, and new Superintendent Dr. Piera Gravenor sees no end in sight.

“Both sides are holding pretty firm. We have a Fact Finder sent by the state who is trying to bring both sides together, but it still isn’t looking good right now,” Gravenor said. A Fact Finder, who for this case is Tom Hardigan, is a neutral person who is not involved at all, and who listens to both sides of the story. After hearing both sides, Hardigan will give his recommendation to both parties on what he think should be done.

“The Board and the teachers met with Hardigan on November 1st and he encouraged that both sides keep meeting as much as possible. He was also very impressed with the presentation of both parties,” Gravenor said.

As Board President Mario Christina said at last month’s meeting, the taxpayers want the teachers to get their pay, but the taxpayers don’t want pay. Gravenor agrees with Christina. “Mario is right. The majority of past budgets also failed by being voted down by the taxpayers. Last budget was a 0% increase in their taxes and they still voted down. So in way, you feel like they are voting down what they want,” Gravenor said.

This has been tough on Gravenor who is a former teacher and is still friendly with most of the teachers including Delsea Education Association President Christine Onorato. “These teachers are some of my best friends. Christine (Onorato) and I are close friends and we promised each other going into this that we would keep it professional and not let it affect our friendship,” Gravenor said.

Onorato did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment for this story.

“When my daughter was in High School, the majority of the teachers she had were great,” said Terri Griffin of Franklinville. “She was always happy with them and never really raised an issue with any of them…being a teacher myself, I want to see the teachers get the best deal,” Griffin said, who is a long tenured teacher at Mary F. Janvier Grade School.

Janvier, which is part of the Franklin Township school district, are having problems of their own. Those teachers, whose three year deal ends in June, are trying negotiate a new contract. “We are just trying to keep some benefits and obviously the most important thing is our health care. We have pretty much  new board this time so it will be interesting to see where things go, but I feel we are in good hands with them,” Griffin said.

“These teachers are worth a million dollars. We have professional athletes getting paid a million dollars and we see how they handle themselves so there is something wrong in society. Our Governor (Chris Christie) has done a great job on making our teachers villains,” Gravenor said.

Gravenor noted that it is illegal to increase teachers pay by more than 2%, and that if you give more money to the teachers (a law installed by Christie last year), money is being taken away from clubs and sports. The Delsea High School and Middle school have lost numerous sports teams, clubs and after school program due to what Gravenor calls a “bear bones” budget. But one after school program that has not gone away by volunteer of the teachers, is tutoring.

“Even with no contract, are teachers continue to go the extra mile with out students, and that right there speaks volumes about these people and what they deserve,” said Gravenor.

 

 

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