New Jersey school districts struggle to come up with contracts

In this day and age, it is not uncommon for individuals, businesses and public entities to face contract disputes. While contracts are normally used to prevent confusion and disputes, they are not perfect. The Princeton Regional School District is facing such an issue now as teachers and officials of the district struggle to come to terms with contractual enforcement issues. The outcome could impact other New Jersey school districts.

For a year now, the teachers' union and the Princeton Regional School District have been working on contract negotiations with no success. Since June, teachers have been working without a contract and they now claim they are getting frustrated by the Board of Education. On the other hand, school district officials assert that high unemployment and lower property tax caps have reduced the amount of money with which they have to negotiate. According to the president of the teachers' union, salary and benefits are the main sticking points holding up progress on the contract.

Issues with contracts, including contractual defense arguments, are not isolated to this one particular school district. In Mercer County alone, five of six districts are working with expired teacher contracts. Statewide, New Jersey is looking at an estimated 100 school districts that are negotiating contracts with little progress reportedly made. Since June, only six districts were able to ratify teacher contracts. Once contracts are worked out, statewide there may still be issues with contractual enforcement as local officials struggle to make ends meet. It remains to be seen if the two sides will come to an agreement, and if they do, if both sides will live up to the terms of the new contract.

Source: The Princeton Patch, " Frustrations Grows as Teachers, District Fail to Agree on Contract," Greta Cuyler, Dec. 14, 2011

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