Rate this
Although recalled, teachers with layoffs can collect
Jennifer Rodrigues

Getting a layoff notice as a Warwick teacher may not be that bad; you may just be getting a bonus.

Teachers work about 185 days, from Sept. 1 to June 30 and are paid for that nine-month period, often choosing to receive paychecks bi-weekly. However, if a teacher receives a layoff notice in the spring and has not been called back by July 1, they are eligible to collect unemployment in July and August.

And the School Department will pick up the bill.

From a financial standpoint, the School Department is responsible for paying the laid off teachers unemployment and teachers do not have unemployment taken out of their check.

But Anthony Ferrucci, chief budget officer for Warwick Schools, explained that the department is prepared to pay.

“We budget $250,000 for unemployment,” said Ferrucci, adding that the budget is nowhere near the amount needed; the department tries to plan ahead. “For whoever gets laid off, the funds are there.”

Ferrucci also added that in theory, teachers should be paid during the school year, but most choose to be paid over the full calendar year.

“We owe them because they had worked through June,” said Ferrucci. “We are paying last year’s money in [August and July].”

Ferrucci said the bi-weekly method helps employees maintain personal budgets, as well as help with the city’s money flow.

According to Rosemary Healey, director of human resources for the Warwick School Department, 39 teachers were given lay off notices earlier this year and, as of Friday, 12 to 13 remained on layoff, waiting to hear if they would have a job come September. In total, Healey said 24 positions were eliminated.

“The numbers do not match because we recall teachers to other positions that have been vacated due to retirements and resignations but which still need to be filed,” said Healey.

That means at least 13 teachers could be collecting unemployment claims through the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DOLT) while receiving their remaining paychecks from the 2012-2013 school year.

According to the DOLT’s website, those who claim unemployment are able to collect a weekly benefit rate equal to 4.38 percent of the wages paid to that individual during the highest two quarters of the base period.

The base period is defined by the DOLT as the first four of the past five completed calendar quarters. The DOLT has also set a minimum weekly benefit rate of $45 and a max of $566 for 2013.

In total, a person is allowed to collect 36 percent of the wages he or she received during that four-quarter base period. The number of weeks a person is allowed to collect is determined by dividing that amount by the weekly benefit rate.

According to DOLT, the average person is allowed to collect unemployment for 26 weeks.

A person is also allowed to file for dependency allowance for up to five dependents, defined as children under 18 or children with a handicap over 18. The allowance is limited to five dependents and equal to 5 percent of the weekly benefit rate for each dependent. The minimum allowance per dependent is $15.

Ferrucci said the amount needed to cover unemployment this year will be less than last year because in 2012, he said, the department was dealing with the layoffs of aids and bus drivers early in that year.

Ferrucci said teachers can collect until they receive a notice that they are rehired from the Warwick School Department, or they get another job.

“Once that happens, they are not eligible for unemployment,” he said.

Also, if Warwick Schools offers employment to a laid-off teacher and they decline the offer, they cannot qualify for unemployment.

As soon as Warwick Schools sends out the letter to rehire a laid-off teacher, Ferrucci explained that the school department would not need to pay any additional unemployment claims for that individual.

“That’s why a lot of times, we try to do it in June,” said Ferrucci about sending out callbacks. If not in June, Ferrucci said they aim for sometime in July.

Additionally, Healey explained some teachers who have been laid off are offered long-term and substitute part-time positions.

“They can collect the differential until they receive a full-time position,” said Healey, explaining another way Warwick can save money when it comes to unemployment.

Healey said the decision regarding which teachers receive layoff notices is not made by the human resources department, but by directors and the superintendent, with the approval of the School Committee.

She added that the decision is made after looking at things such as the needs of the district, student enrollment, the courses selected by students for the following year and how many students are at each grade level.

Since layoffs are determined in the spring, Healey said the announcement of teacher retirements is often a trigger of callbacks.

“We have retirements come in, so even though positions may have been eliminated, as retirements come in [teachers] have been called back,” said Healey.

Also, because layoffs are often determined through the need to consolidate, Healey said there were fewer lay-offs at the elementary school level this year.

“We have fewer elementary teachers on the layoff list because of previous consolidations. There were no direct cuts to take at the elementary level,” explained Healey.

Instead, the small number of elementary teachers on the layoff list is there to make room for teachers in the district who may teach in other areas but are double qualified to also teach at the elementary level.

Retirements have also lead to the majority of elementary teacher callbacks.

Although Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has said that layoffs and callbacks can no longer be determined by seniority, Healey said there is an exception in the law that allows Warwick to continue that process.

“If you take cuts due to declining enrollment, you are allowed to [determine layoffs] by seniority,” said Healey. “Callbacks can also be by seniority [in that case].”


Comments
3 comments on this item

This happened many years ago, in Cranston. I should know--I'm a retired Cranston teacher. We got paid all throughout the year, every two weeks, and if we wished, we could elect to have city pay us our salary through summer, as well, in the same bi-weekly checks, apportioned over 28 weeks. Those who got termination notices tried to collect, when they realized the loophole, but that loophole was closed. Teachers are salaried employees for the year (even if they do not work in the summer); their salary is computed on the entire year. For that reason, I don't understand those who are terminated collecting benefits, once they receive termination notices. Seems some try to capitalize on a technicality. But then again, I could be wrong. After all, I'm one who worked 30 years, went out on belief I'd be getting the COLA (contractually in place, for years) and then Labor Board changed the contract after the fact, and I and countless others lost the COLA, while other retirees (judges, etc.) never lost a dime.So ethics and fair play? Don't know if it's across the board...

This article is only telling half truths which is typical of Beacon reporting. All teachers are paid a salary for their work year, September through June. Some teachers choose to have that salary extended over 26 biweekly checks, others receive a lump sum in June, and no additional checks throughout the summer. In either case, the teacher receives his/her salary for the year that they worked.That seems easy to understand.

If a teacher is laid off, they can collect unemployment as of the last day of their work year. If the teacher has chosen to allow the city of Warwick to hold part of their pay from the completed work year and pay it out over the summer, the city is the one who benefits by not having to come up with the lump sum in June. Once the teacher has been recalled, the unemployment benefits cease.

There is no double dipping, as this article suggests. Seems like this reporter is trying to make a name for herself with this type of erroneous reporting.

Typical day in Warwick Schools with Rosemary Healy running the show......why hasn't the school committee forced her resignation yet ?????

You must be logged in to post a comment. Click here to log in.
Copyright © 2014, Beacon Communications. Powered by: Creative Circle Advertising Solutions, Inc.