By Leslie Brody, Staff Writer. The Record.

As New Jersey teachers head back to class this month, they face pay raises that have gotten smaller on average for the sixth year in a row.

This school year, teachers will pocket an average 2.25 percent raise, down from 2.37 percent last year, according to a study released Thursday by the New Jersey School Boards Association. The new average raise is less than half of the 4.58 percent average seen six years ago.

The association attributed the declining raises to the budget pressures of the 2 percent cap on property tax increases and tight state aid. Governor Christie allocated $97 million more in state school aid this year, but most districts received the same sum as last year – which some educators said was effectively a cut, considering their rising costs.

“The state is not a limitless source” of money, said Frank Belluscio, spokesman for the association. Due to the cap, he added, “Districts can’t look to property taxes for a large increase in funding.”

Smaller raises come at a time when teachers must chip in more for health benefits, due to a law passed two years ago. In settlements reported to the school boards association, some unions have also agreed to a range of concessions, such as adding an extra school day, lengthening the workday by 15 minutes, and shaving tuition reimbursements for taking outside courses.


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