Community Shows Support for Teachers Amid Contract Mediation

By Gina G. Scala | Oct 02, 2019
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Ship Bottom — A contingent of parents and other community members came together Tuesday afternoon in a show of support for the teachers of the Long Beach Island Consolidated School District, ahead of a planned mediation slated to begin at 4 p.m. Negotiations between the district and the teachers union began earlier this year before the board declared talks at an impasse in June.

“This isn’t about animosity,” Colleen Neil, a New Jersey Education Association/UniServ field representative for Region 7, which provides services to the Long Beach Island Education Association, said prior to leading a delegation into the LBI Grade School. “This isn’t us vs. them. This is about standing up and fighting for a fair contract.”

She said there is no friction between the board and the union, classifying their relationship as “good. No negative words have been spoken (on either side).”

While in many situations contract negotiations can be distracting and create tension, Neil said the LBIEA members haven’t allowed the situation to impact their work lives. She said the staff continues to show unity for each other and a commitment to the excellent educational process that exists in the elementary district.

“Our teachers are also community members who give so much,” said Marci Bleam, a district parent, former educator and Ship Bottom resident. “It’s important we give back to them what they give us.”

In a show of solidarity with the teachers, a large group of parents and other community members took a lap around the LBI School under a crystal-blue sky and sunshine that made the day feel more like summer than fall.

“Our community should support our teachers,” Judy Meehan, a former educator, said while parents began to gather up their children, leaving for sports practice and other obligations and as negotiations continued.

It’s unclear what the next steps would be should an agreement not come to fruition. —G.G.S.

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