By Desirée Taylor
A tentative contract agreement has been reached between the Newark Teachers Union and Newark Public Schools. The historic deal, which was years in the making, includes significant changes that will impact the city’s more than 3,000 teachers. It calls for a total of $31 million in retroactive pay, a universal salary scale that includes increases and bonus opportunities, and a “pay for performance” system which the governor has been pushing for since he came into office.
“The opportunity to put in a rigorous evaluation system … and reward greatness … is terrific,” said Cami Anderson, Newark Schools superintendent.
Teachers will have a voice in the new evaluation system. Each school’s Peer Review Team will include a teacher, school administrator and principal with equal power. Teachers who don’t make the grade will get coaching and professional development. An oversight committee will also be established. But the school superintendent will have the final say. Teachers in struggling schools will have more flexibility including the option of longer school days and additional staff.
“Teachers have told me they’re not afraid of accountability or evaluations,” said Joseph Del Grosso, president of the Newark Teachers Union.
Teacher compensation will be paid for through a combination of district funding and philanthropic resources including part of the $100 million gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The current contract expired July 1, 2010. If the new agreement is ratified on Oct. 29, it will be in effect through 2015.