Teacher pact cost: $12.6M in 3 years

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The teacher contracts approved by the School Committee and yet to be ratified by the union membership would require an additional $12.6 million in local funding over the next three years, according to Anthony Ferrucci, school director of finances.

Of the total, $4.6 million is needed in the current budget, $1.3 million more than the school budget approved by the City Council in June. Ferrucci anticipates that will be an issue when the committee comes before the council for the release of the $3.3 million the council agreed to release with settlement of a contract.

What puts the department in the red, assuming the council approves at least the $3.3 million it withheld to settle a contract, is a 2 percent retroactive pay increase for last year at a cost of $681,000. This effectively amounts to a 4.7 percent increase in teacher salaries for the first year of the contract.

While the terms of the tentative contracts – one to cover the two years the teachers were without a contract – and the second for the next three years beginning this August have not been made public, the findings of nearly two years of arbitration have been released. With some amendments, the contracts follow the arbitration.

The School Committee approved the contracts last Tuesday and set a 10-day deadline for the Warwick Teachers Union to ratify the agreement.

WTU President Darlene Netcoh did not respond to a request for comment when asked yesterday when the union membership would see the agreement and have the opportunity to vote on it. According to sources, however, a meeting has been called for today at 4 p.m. at Toll Gate.

In anticipation for the financing of the agreements, Ferrucci drafted an “economic impact” for Superintendent Philip Thornton that was made available to the Beacon on request.

Ferrucci bases his projections on 896 full-time equivalents (FTEs) and takes into consideration the effect of raises on step increases. Furthermore, it is adjusted by an additional eight full-time special education teachers. Ferrucci said the agreement would set a cap of no more than 30 percent of special education students in a class. He said some classes are running at 32 percent at this time.

There is no adjustment for possible reduction in school enrollment. Naturally, if there was an influx of students, the district could be required to add classes and teachers boosting the current projected additional costs. Similarly, a decline in enrollment could mean a reduction in teachers although, like the previous contract, that number is limited to 20 teachers in a year.

The projections are based solely on known additional personnel as required by the contract and pay raises for those in current pay steps. The system provides for 10 steps and more than 70 percent of the system are at the 10th, the highest, pay level. Breakage, the difference between the cost of replacing a 10th step teacher – it could be a retirement or leaving the system to work elsewhere – and hiring the replacement at a lower step will result in a $250,000 savings this year. Without those savings the cost of the new contract would be almost $4.9 million this year.

As it is unknown how many teachers may retire or leave the system in future years, the saving of breakage is not part of the calculation going forward.

What of other saving that could lower departmental costs in the current year or, for that matter, a surplus in the past fiscal year that could be used to offset the added cost of the contract?

Ferrucci doesn’t foresee a surplus in the past year or the current year.

Furrucci is hopeful in presenting the request for release of the budget funds, the council will consider what went into arriving at a contract and the administration’s attention to cost.

“I assume folks will understand why it took so long,” he said.

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RIPeanut

It was for the kids........

Tuesday, November 21
Justanidiot

the teachars take another won four the team. how cans they support themselves and the private skul tuitions.

Tuesday, November 21
markyc

The Warwick School Committee/Administration knew(or should have known) that there would be a likelihood of retroactive pay increases as part of any negotiated contract. They have had prior budget surpluses in addition to the funding set aside for a new contract. They will also request funding through a City bond for various school upgrades & improvements. In all likelihood, they will also request an increase in the next fiscal year's school budget. The average Warwick taxpayer can not continue to fund increase upon increase for a declining student enrollment population. It's time to make due with what was budgeted.

Tuesday, November 21
davebarry109

More tax increases to pay for these teachers. Unbelievable.

Tuesday, November 21
Justanidiot

nots to worry -- mayer corrente will reopen this contract and serve the taxpayers well, just like the airport contract

Tuesday, November 21
PaulHuff

The school committee rolled over and gave away the store. They should all be voted out.

Taxpayers can’t afford to overpay these greedy teachers.

Tuesday, November 21
Bg9385

The concept that the salary figures were determined by an arbitrator and negotiated by the WTU and WSC is lost on anyone complaining about them. This is sort of the art of negotiating. I’m sure the WTU is conceding issues as well. But will The Beacon report them? Probably not.

Tuesday, November 21
BeaconCommenter

Warwick Teachers 1

Beacon Keyboard Warriors 0

Tuesday, November 21
richardcorrente

Keeping everything in proper perspective this solution gives Warwick a stable school environment for the first time in years.

$12.6 million over 3 years is an average of $4.2 million a year. The total budget to the School Committee is $161 million. That means this contract, if approved, will only be a 2.6% change of the total cost of the Warwick School system. If that math is correct, and if the contract goes into effect, I support it. $4.2 million dollars divided by 80,000 taxpayers comes to $52.50 per taxpayer, per year. The improvement to "quality-of-life" is many times the cost in my opinion.

I agree that it should have happened 2 years ago.

I agree that it wouldn't have happened without the enormous effort by the Warwick Teachers Union, but it looks like it finally did happen. If I was a school teacher I would feel grateful and relieved. If I had school children in the Warwick school system I would feel grateful and relieved. As a taxpayer, I feel that this solution will give our real estate much greater appreciation than it will cost us. All things considered, this is a whole lot better than we have lived with for the last two+ years and I, for one, am very grateful to those who got us to this point. They took a ton of time and energy, as well as hundreds of hours away from their families for the greater good and deserve our total respect for this accomplishment. The result appears to be the fairest of compromises. My critics, of course, will accuse me of pandering to the teachers when all I really am doing is giving credit where credit is due. None of those critics were willing to put in any effort, but they will always jump to criticize those who do.

To all those who got us to this new contract, thank you sincerely.

Darlene Netcoh, The Warwick Teachers Union, the School Committee, Attorney Vincent Ragosta, and Mayor Avedisian; thank you sincerely. Warwick just became a better place to live.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Rick Corrente

Wednesday, November 22
Justanidiot

mayer corrente -- eyes thought youse was the taxprayers mayer. now you is just some shill for public sextor unions and entrenched bureucracy.

i am asshamed to have you as our mayer.

Friday, November 24
richardcorrente

Dear Justanidiot,

Look at the big picture old friend.

We all knew that someday the teachers would have a new contract. We all knew it would have some sort of raise in it for the teachers that have been working without a contract for over two years. The contract (as much as we know about it at present) gives stability to Warwick families at a reasonable cost. I believe it will offer a better environment to help attract new taxpayers to Warwick and, at least, keep some here that were contemplating an exit due to our schools. Additional taxpayers reduces the need to increase taxes on all of us. Look at "Salaries.com". Our teachers appear to be getting the average income in Rhode Island. I'll go back to your second comment where you say "Corrente will reopen this contract and serve the taxpayers well". This contract, once signed, is a done deal, but you can bet that if I read anything in it that unfairly favors either side I won't hesitate to speak up, just like the airport agreement. I remain committed to the 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab and this compromise appears to be a fair investment.

Merry Christmas Justanidiot.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, November 24
Justanidiot

mr mayer will roll over for youse too. erect him again public officials and you will never have to leave your trough

Friday, November 24