By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON – One thing that won’t weigh heavily on the minds of Trenton Public Schools teachers as the 2011-2012 academic year begins are lingering concerns about a contract that went unsigned. During a special meeting Wednesday, the Trenton Education Association allowed concessions in ratifying a two-year contract with school officials.
TEA District Director Mark Hoffman addressed the board, and said the ratified contract was “a monumental one,” representing the first “truly concessionary contract on the part of the TEA in some 30 years.”
The educational union agreed to a 5.8 percent salary reduction for the 2011-2012 year and no increase for the second year of the contract, along with accepting additional responsibilities for insurance premiums.
Union officials and board members agreed that, while the salary reductions were not the direction the district wants to take, finalizing the contract and putting teachers back to work were of greater priority. Hoffman said the concessions were harsh but necessary after two years of negotiating. More than a dozen teachers previously laid off were called back to work on Thursday.
“We did this because more of our colleagues are coming back to work,” Hoffman said. “We did this because it was the right thing to do for this community.”