I would like to update the membership on a few important issues:
At the national level, a new tax law was passed by Congress that will affect every member next year. The $250 teacher deduction was preserved in the final version of the bill that was passed, but it remains to be seen how the law will affect the membership as a whole. One important change is that union dues will no longer be deductible. There is some talk about possible future legislative changes to the law, but those are just rumors right now.
At the state level, we have a new governor in Phil Murphy that many of our members worked very hard to help get elected. We have high hopes for this new administration and it seems to be off to a good start with the pick for Commissioner of Education of Lamont Repollet. It feels good to have a governor who respects us and our profession.
At the local level, unfortunately, our paychecks went down again because of the increase in the cost of our health care plan. I encourage every member to examine their current plan and consider whether it is the right one for themselves and their family. Everyone's situation is unique, but it may make sense for some members to move to a less expensive plan during the next October open enrollment period to save money each and every paycheck. Right now, this is all we can do until there is a change in the law or we start our next round of negotiations in the fall of 2019.
Also, at the local level, we approved the changes to the LEA Constitution, 314 to 9, which I believe will help our association run more smoothly and modernize our governance system as well.
After discussions with the administration, there shouldn't be any changes to the procedure for approvals for contingency days for the remainder of this school year. The administration is examining whether next year they can add the following choices to AESOP that are listed in our contract:
- Urgent business
- Religious observance
- Unforeseen occurrence
- Prearranged dental or medical visits
- Care of ill family member
- College visitation
- Court appearance
- Legal business
- Graduation of employee, spouse or child
- Miscellaneous (at discretion of the superintendent)
In most cases, this should eliminate the need for the administration to question anyone on contingency days.
Sorry for the long email. I wish everyone a successful new year and appreciate your continued support of the LEA.