In a stunning two-step move, the and Warren Township Education Association agreed Monday to accept the recommendations of the state-appointed fact finder.
Specifics terms of the recommendation have not been released, pending notification of the WTEA membership. The report was received after noon Monday by board members, board of education President Gregory Przybylski said at the board's meeting at the middle school, and the board called a 15-minute executive session to discuss the report.
"The board of education is prepared to accept the fact finder's recommendation...and is prepared to present that as a contract offer to the teachers and the associated groups," Dr. Przybylski said after the closed session.
The response from the WTEA came quickly, when WTEA President Fran Blabolil took the microphone a few minutes later at the board meeting's pubic comment time.
"Our team has decided to accept the fact finder's report," Blabolil said amid cheers from the more than 100 teachers present at the meeting.
The teachers then moved to the middle school gym, where the specifics of the recommendation was to be presented to the membership.
Dr. Przybylski said the agreement was for a "one- plus three-year" term, extending to the end of the 2014 school year. He also said the board has been cognizant of the frustration of the staff and taxpayers through the long negotiations.
"The fact finder did, I think, a fair job evaluating both the current economic circumstances and the positions of the education asociation as well as the positions of the board of education," he said.
The agreement brings a contract settlement at hand, after more than two years of negotiations after the expiration of the last contract June 30, 2010. The long-awaited fact finder's report was initially expected in March, but .
Speaking after the teachers had left, resident Stacy McAteer summed up the opinion of many, noting, "I can't tell you how excited we are to start the new year on a positive note."