Over one thousand Freehold Regional Education Association (FREA) members, all district employees, mobilized at the Board of Education meeting Monday night to make a statement to the Board members about their dedication and hard work, in light of their upcoming contract negotiations.
Wearing bright blue t-shirts that read “FREA United” on the front and had “Over 1,000 Reasons Why Our Schools Work” on the back, the Colts Neck High School auditorium was a sea of blue shirts and determined expressions.
The FREA four-year contract ends on June 30, according to Freehold Regional High School District Superintendent Charles Sampson. The Board will negotiate for a new contract in mediations on April 30 and again in May.
FREA President Debbie Gates-Kane addressed the Board of Education on behalf of the association’s members.
“We are the people that day in and day out before, during, and after school do the most important job - educate our youth and, in effect, shape the future of our society,” Gates-Kane said, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.
Gates-Kane went on to say that all of the district employees are dedicated to their demanding jobs and are effective at all of them. She said that the academic excellence of the students, the low drop out rate, high attendance records and high test scores are a direct reflection upon the district’s employees.
“While we certainly appreciate the compliments from our employers regarding the excellent job we do, in the end, words that are not accompanied by supporting actions are ultimately meaningless,” Gates-Kane said. “Members of the Board of Education, there is only one simple way to demonstration your respect and appreciation for the work that the members of the Education Association do, offer us a fair contract.”
Board of Education President Heshy Moses spoke on behalf of the Board telling the Education Association members that the Board is well aware that the teachers are the backbone of the system and that the Board will continue to bargain in good faith.