To the Editor:
Bravo to the legislators for picking on the most vulnerable members of the state of Rhode Island.
I am a special education teacher at the Cornerstone School in Cranston and teach a group of wonderful high school students who are considered severe and profoundly disabled. The pay at this private school does not compare to that of the public school teacher but the rewards from my students outweigh that fact. I worked at MetLife insurance for 23 years and left that job to follow my dream, which included a 50 percent cut in pay.
Now the following proposal was presented to our staff today: reduce holidays from 15 to 10, reduce vacation by five days per person (I work year-round), reduce sick days by six per year, freeze step increases for teachers (the steps have not been raised since 2000), cut health benefit waiver, offer individual plan to new employees, in bad weather no pay if you do not risk your life to come in and the best is last: 20 furlough days, which you must work, or four weeks of pay. Let's see, that plus the loss of a week's vacation is equal to five weeks working (volunteering) without pay. I have never been part of a union until now and this is what they have to offer.
I was told blame it on the legislators. When I called the governor’s office to complain, the girl never even asked my name. Maybe she is a college student who just answers the phone. I want to know where the $60 million surplus is going. Governor, I invite you to the school to meet my students and meet the dedicated hardworking staff. Many staff members already work two and three jobs. This is a travesty to not only my school, but to the entire Cranston Arc agency, all staff, students, clients and their families. I implore you to veto these budget cuts.
Barbara Walsh Egan