With the local 2 percent property tax cap and the slow economy, some tough bargaining is taking place for teachers in many local school districts.

In many places those negotiated teacher salary increases are getting smaller because of the property tax cap. And teachers are also now required to pay more into their pension funds and pay a larger portion of their health benefits.

The state benefit reform law enacted last year requires teachers eventually to pay an additional 2 percent of their salaries to fund pensions. Teachers covered by the School Employees' Health Benefits Program are also paying more for health insurance under the new law.

Frank Beluscio of the New Jersey School Boards Association says when you are in a very slow economy, when you are looking at restrictions on revenue, on the amount of money available, it is going to slow negotiations down.

He says normally, the school year begins with the majority of districts still in the negotiating process. When negotiations in any given district reach an impasse, a third party is usually brought in to analyze both arguments and issues a report. And if fact-finding fails, the Public Employment Relations Commission appoints a representative to investigate the parties' claims.