Parents have been abuzz with the rumor that teachers have elected not to participate in the annual Faculty charity basketball game due to the ongoing contract dispute with the school district.
Superintendent of Schools Daniel Fishbein confirmed Monday night that the unionized teachers will not be playing on Friday, Jan. 27 at the annual charity game as they do every year.
Fishbein declined to offer further comment, but said he and other administrators would be playing at the high school gym in lieu of the Ridgewood Education Association (REA) members. [Update 12:10 p.m. Tuesday – parents will also be playing in the game.]
Proceeds from ticket sales will be going to village students this year, Fishbein said. The Federated HSA runs the annual, highly-anticipated event.
Students look forward for much of the school year to the humorous game with the world-famous Wizards – they don't often see their teachers donning high socks and being dunked on.
According to a letter sent to the HSA Presidents, the decision to opt out was a "difficult one" for teachers.
Dear Federated Home and School Association,
I am writing to inform you that the Ridgewood Education Association will not be participating in the Wizard Game on January 27th. Our membership respects and fully supports the HSA sponsored events. The decision not to participate is a difficult one, but our teachers have been working without a contract since September and evening events are ones that we find at this time are going to be removed until a contract is settled. We hope you understand our current position and ask you to urge the Board of Education to settle the contract.
Our Association is making a donation in the amount of $500 towards the game. As always, you have our continued support and appreciation for the work you do for our schools.
Ridgewood Education Association
It's just the latest public showing for the teachers. In December, about 300 teachers rallied around the Education Center in a show of force.
“We came tonight to show support for our negotiators and encourage the Board of Education to settle our contract,” Josh Saladino, head of the Ridgewood Education Association’s action committee, told northjersey.com at the rally.
The district requested in both 2009 and 2010 that the teachers open up the contract to provide budget relief, as state aid dried up. Although a memorandum of agreement was reached in 2009 with union leadership, members voted concessions down.
The two sides will be meeting with a state-appointed fact finder in the hopes of ironing out a new contract for the 2012-2013 school year.
The school board budgeted for zero teacher salary increases in the current school year budget and on Monday, Board Secretary Angelo DeSimone said they're assuming up to 2 in percent salary increases next year. Officials caution they're rough projections and are subject to change before the budget is finalized, generally in late March.
Should an agreement not be reached, teachers will continue to work under the old contract.
HSA Federated President Lynn Granski did not respond to a request for comment.