It’s procrastination at its finest, or maybe it’s brinkmanship.
Regardless, as of press time yesterday, the teachers union and School Committee still hadn’t come to agreement on the terms of a contract that expired a year ago. And the impending deadline of the contract extension is fast approaching – it’s Aug. 31, just over a week away.
Additionally, the expiration will bring with it what could cost the department an extra $2 million for the current fiscal year, as 20-percent teacher co-pays for health care expire, too.
Adding fuel to the fire is the inaccessibility of key people like Beth Furtado, school committee chair, and Rosemary Healey, the school department’s legal counsel. Both have been M.I.A. for the past week. Even the mayor says he doesn’t know what’s going on.
What we’re hopping is that by the time this editorial reaches readers’ eyes, the department and teachers union have reached an agreement. It’s not too much to ask, seeing as how they’ve already had a year to deliberate and get things done. (If only students were granted as much time to get their book reports and science labs done.)
So what happens if an agreement isn’t reached in the next week? Schools are set to re-open, but would the lack of a teacher contract impede that?
“We’ll see what happens,” said Warwick Teachers Union President James Ginolfi in a Beacon interview. “We’ll deal with that when we get to that point.”
Yikes. Aren’t we already to “that point?”
To make matters worse, Ginolfi said communication between the union and the department has been so thin, they don’t even know what schools are opening.
Ginolfi is sensationalizing things a bit, since those in charge of maintenance said everything was on track for schools to open as planned.
Sources in the school department say the union has been dragging out the process, refusing to go to mediation, as was the plan more than a month ago.
Regardless of who’s to blame, the whole scenario is a poor example for our school children and a lousy way to run schools.