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updated salary
A large crowd gathers in the atrium at the George Inness Annex on Monday, Sept. 24. Teachers and staff voiced their anger over not receiving contractually obligated pay raises for the 2019-2020 school year, and receiving their 2017-2018 pay instead.
PHOTO BY ERIN ROL/STAFF

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

The Montclair schools are close to resolving a long-standing dispute over staff salaries and contracts.

Staffers have been provided with their correct salaries, said Interim Superintendent Nathan Parker said.

“We have distributed what we believe to be the corrected salary amounts to each staff member involved, with the request that staff members confirm the accuracy of the numbers before we issue checks,” Parker said on Monday.

All staff affiliated with the Montclair Education Association received an email from Paul Arilotta, stating once teachers approved the numbers, a special meeting of the Board of Education will be scheduled for approval of the new three-year contract. That contract is valid from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021, so staff will also be paid retroactively.

“Pending board approval, paychecks will be distributed on Oct. 31, 2019 reflecting the 2019-2020 corrected information for MEA salaries,” the letter stated.

The salary increases were agreed upon May 23, according to Memorandum of Understanding between the BOE and the MEA obtained by Montclair Local.

On July 1, 2018, salaries were to increase by 2.75 percent. On July 1, 2019, that increase was to be 3.25 percent. Next year, on July 1, the salary increase is 3.5 percent, according to the memorandum.

The other terms of the memorandum that were approved over a year ago, on June 12, 2018,  included the procedures for applying for family leave, the length of time in advance that secretaries should be notified of a change in assignment, and the hourly rate for teachers involved in curriculum writing.

For curriculum writing, teachers were to be paid an additional $49 per hour in 2018-2019. That amount was to increase by $1 a year, to $51 an hour in 2020-2021.

Over the summer, staffers received their paperwork for the start of the year, only to find incorrect salary information in their paperwork. One staffer told the BOE that the envelope with his name on it actually contained another staffer’s paperwork.

District officials announced in September that all MEA staff would not be paid at their contracted rate for the 2019-2020 school year until the pay rates were reviewed and verified. In the meantime, teachers would be paid at their rates for the 2017-2018 school year.

At a BOE meeting in September, teachers and staff criticized the district for the errors. Several staff members reported that they were experiencing financial hardship due to the delay in pay raises.

Staff members also discovered in their first paycheck that an extra deduction for health benefits was taken. The amount varied among staff members, but some reported that amounts ranged from $80 to $300.

It was after the salary issues came to light that the district hired Arilotta as the interim director of human resources, a new position in the central office.

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