July 30, 2014

PREA Notes That PPS Board of Education Is Once Again Spreading Misinformation

To the Editor:

The Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) negotiations team needs to correct misinformation presented to the public by the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE).

At the July 22 meeting, Patrick Sullivan, Chief Negotiator for the PPS BOE, presented a PowerPoint titled, “Update on PREA Negotiations”.  In Mr. Sullivan’s presentation, he compared the average salary of a PPS teacher to the average salaries of teachers in ten other states.  Mr. Sullivan failed to mention that the information presented from the other states was from the 2008-2009 school year, while the salary used from Princeton was from the current year, 2013-2014.  It is difficult to imagine that this could be an honest mistake when the source Mr. Sullivan cited clearly states the salaries are from different years.

This has not been the first time misinformation has been presented to the public by the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.  Previous examples of this reckless disregard for the truth include the cost of healthcare for employees, and that employee contributions to healthcare will plateau.  One wonders whether Mr. Sullivan and the other Board members are distorting the facts in other areas as well.

While there is no dispute that the “average” teacher in Princeton is well paid, that “average” must be placed in the proper context.  The average teacher in PPS has been teaching for 13 years and holds an advanced degree.  In fact, 72 percent of the teachers in PPS have earned a Master’s degree or above.  That high level of training and experience has certainly paid dividends for the students and the Princeton community.  We are routinely ranked as one of the highest performing districts in the nation, and on the latest AP exams 94.1 percent of our students earned a score of 3 or higher. In fact, the Boards’ own demographics consultant publicly stated “People move to Princeton because of the education.”  Are teachers in Princeton Public Schools well paid?  Yes, and we earn every cent of it.

It’s also worth noting that while the Board chooses to distort the facts surrounding PPS teachers, it chooses to ignore the facts regarding Princeton Public Schools’ administrators.  It’s a fact that PPS administrators are among the highest paid in both the County and State, yet the Board still voted to give them a raise significantly higher than the 2 percent budget cap they keep referencing in public and at the bargaining table.

In the future, we hope the PPS Board of Education presents honest information to the public in order to fulfill their responsibility to the community they serve.

The PREA Negotiations Team

John Baxter, Chair

Joanne Ryan

John Sullivan

Justin Mathews

Lisa Gambale

Jen Park