Fritz, Seidman and Milmed. The opinion of the court was delivered by Seidman, J.A.D.
The issue in this appeal is whether the grievance of a group of teachers was subject to arbitration under the terms and provisions of the contract between their association and the employer board of education. The trial judge held that it was not and entered summary judgment in favor of the board.
Red Bank Teachers Association is the bargaining agent for the teachers of the Red Bank school system. The Association and the board of education negotiated a contract for the period of July 1, 1972 to June 20, 1974. It contained a grievance procedure, the final step of which provided, to the extent pertinent here, as follows:
7. If the decision of the Board does not resolve the grievance to the satisfaction of the Association and the Association wishes review by a third party, they shall so notify the Board through the superintendent within ten (10) school days of receipt of the Board's decision, except in the case of grievance involving any of the following points:
(a) Any matter for which a method of review is prescribed by law or any rule or regulation of the State Commissioner of Education or any matter which according to law is either beyond the scope of Board authority or limited to action by the Board alone. * * * [Emphasis supplied.]
In November 1972 a number of the primary school teachers filed a grievance concerning alleged changes in working
conditions previously in existence which, they maintained, were unilaterally altered by the board of education in violation of their collective bargaining agreement. The basis of the grievance was the assignment of an additional teaching period while the teachers' regular classes were being taught music, physical education and art by specialists, whereas in the past they had been given a free period during that time. They contended that these changes violated two provisions of the agreement, the first of which was Article II, paragraph G:
Except as this Agreement shall hereinafter otherwise provide, all terms and conditions of employment applicable on the effective date of this agreement shall remain in full force and effect except that proposed new rules or modifications of existing rules governing working conditions shall be negotiated with the majority representative before they are established.
The second provision, Article VI, paragraph D, was as follows:
Classroom teachers in grades four through eight inclusive shall have one preparation period per day. Elementary school teachers shall not be required to remain in the classroom during the period in which the physical education specialist is conducting the class, although they shall remain during periods in which art and music are being conducted with the supervisor present.
The teachers demanded (a) reinstatement of working conditions as they had existed prior to the contract, (b) permission to leave the room while the art teacher was conducting classes, (c) continuation of the 6-hour, 15-minute day, (d) hiring of additional teachers (later withdrawn), and (e) additional compensation for the past changes in the conditions. When the issues remained unresolved after numerous meetings between the parties, the association sought arbitration of the grievance.
Thereafter, the board filed a complaint to enjoin all arbitration proceedings and "requiring appeals to the Commissioner of Education, if ...