Pink slips sent to 71 Warwick teachers

Posted

There is bound to be renewed attendance at the May 15 meeting of the Warwick School Committee as the school department recently sent out 71 layoff notices to Warwick teachers in advance of learning how much money they will receive in their FY19 budget from the Warwick City Council.

Of the notices, 37 were received by elementary teachers, 12 were sent to special educators, three went to reading specialists and four to librarians. The remainder were sent throughout the secondary level and also included art, music, physical education and English language learners (ELLs).

The inordinate amount of notices sent to elementary educators makes more sense in the context that three elementary schools in Warwick – John Wickes, Randall Holden and John Brown Francis – will be closed, or re-purposed into a Pre-K facility in regards to John Brown Francis.

It is for this same reason that the school department is allowed to send more than the contractually agreed upon number of layoff notices, 40, prior to the deadline for sending out such notices, which is June 1. The contract, which also states that no more than 20 teachers can be laid off in any one year, also makes an exception for when schools are closed and not replaced elsewhere in the city.

As stated in Appendix D of the new collective bargaining agreement, “...wherein the Committee affirmatively votes to close a school or schools, without replacing the school space in another building or buildings within the same year, the above layoff limitations shall be waived for that school year in which the school closure is to take effect.”

At the same time, depending on how much money is provided to the school department when the Warwick City Council allocates funding later this month (or in early June at the latest), the school department will be able to adjust how many of these notices are actually followed through into layoffs. It is hypothetically possible, though admittedly improbable, that no layoffs would be necessary.

The school department has asked for a little over $8 million in additional funding from the city to help balance a budget marred primarily by increasing salaries and steps to teachers and a lowering of state funding due to declining enrollment numbers in Warwick. There is so far no date for the department to appear before the council. The School Committee is looking for a $171.4 million budget.

The preliminary nature of these notices has not halted the ire of the Warwick Teachers’ Union, which issued a release strongly decrying the layoff notices as “exorbitant,” and claims that the department has shown no fiscal restraint by adding administrative positions at both middle schools while “using teachers and students as pawns in a game with the Warwick City Council.”

“The Warwick Teachers’ Union is concerned about the detrimental effect that these layoffs will have on the education of the children of Warwick and urges the [Warwick School Committee], for the sake of the students, to vote their consciences and not approve these layoffs,” Union president Darlene Netcoh writes in the release. “The WSC needs to instruct the superintendent to rescind the superfluous layoff notices, to make peace with the City Council, and to not attempt to balance his budget on the backs of Warwick’s teachers and students.”

Superintendent Philip Thornton said Wednesday afternoon that, since the school committee has still yet to meet and discuss the layoffs, he couldn’t comment on the matter on the record.

Comments

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Justanidiot

gets these peoples der jobs back now master mayer. loosing this meny jobs isnot good fer the towns.

Thursday, May 10
richardcorrente

How does reducing the number of teachers increase the quality of teaching?

You're right.

It doesn't.

Richard Corrente

Democrat for Mayor

Thursday, May 10
Flo5582

i bet I know one ex-(Losing)candidate for school committee who will suddenly grace the patrons with his presence at the next School Committee meeting.

Thursday, May 10
CrickeeRaven

"How does reducing the number of teachers increase the quality of teaching?" asks the make-believe mayor -- ignoring how two years of work-to-rule, delays, PR stunts, court cases, and flip-flops on which version of the contract the WTU would accept also harmed student achievement.

Despite his attempts to continue pandering to the WTU, the fact is that the union agreed to the contract that allows the school committee to layoff as many teachers as necessary when schools are going to be closed -- and now schools are going to be closed.

Ms. Netcoh also should stop repeating the false talking point about "adding administrative positions at both middle schools," when it has been proven that these positions originally existed prior to the middle school consolidation and moved with the students to their new locations.

The make-believe mayor does not need any more encouragement for his false statements.

Friday, May 11
richardcorrente

Dear CrickeeRaven,

All I did was bring up one comment. Reducing the number of teachers does NOT improve the quality of teaching.

All the issues you brought up were there to cloud the issue.

Poorly done - hiding behind an imaginary name. The epitome of "fake news".

Happy Spring everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, May 11
CrickeeRaven

"Poorly done," writes the make-believe mayor who has consistently made false comments and complained about the use of screen names on this website in a delusional belief that using pseudonyms somehow makes the facts somehow less true.

All of the facts presented -- that the WTU engaged in delaying tactics, PR stunts, court cases, work-to-rule, and flip-flops on which version of the contract to accept -- are true, and they are not any less true because the make-believe mayor thinks they "cloud the issue."

The WTU did, in fact, agree to the new contract that allows the school committee to layoff more teachers when it plans to close schools -- meaning the union is at least equally responsible for the lower "quality of teaching" that the make-believe mayor thinks these layoffs will cause.

As much as he may try, the make-believe mayor will not trick honest, taxpaying voters into supporting his simplistic, pandering statements.

Friday, May 11
JusthaFacts

With a new Masters Degree and 2 years experience I moved to RI to be part of an innovative team teaching and individualized student middle school project. For 3 great years I worked with dedicated teachers and eager students. Each year the administration sent me a layoff notice, and although my principal promised to fight to keep me on, after the third year I quit and left teaching. That was many years ago and I moved to Warwick and my children went to great schools here, but now taxpaying families are abandoning Warwick as this Superintendent and Committee destroy our schools in the same way.

Saturday, May 12
markyc

There is a need for additional funds from the taxpayers for the new teachers contract & some funding for the consolidation changes taking effect in September. With this being the case, additional funding for added administration positions should be denied. Unfortunately, additional funding for computers/Chromebooks/other supplies should be denied/delayed as well. Warwick taxpayers can not afford an $ 8,000,000 + additional funding request from the School Committee. On top of a school bond proposal in the fall, the Warwick School system may need to dip into funding from current operations to meet maintenance for schools. With a declining enrollment & no foreseeable enrollment increase on the horizon, Warwick Schools need to manage their funds MORE efficiently, as Cranston has. Whether this management comes from reduced positions at the administration/teacher/support staff level as well as better management of other operations(supplies/transportation costs/facility maintenance, etc.) will be determined by the Warwick School administration with what they are allotted for budget purposes.

Saturday, May 12
CrickeeRaven

Hello markyc:

As the article notes, the school committee is looking to cut 71 teaching positions because of school consolidation. Even using a conservative estimate of $100,000 per teacher, that's $7.1 million -- and even if half of those layoffs actually take effect, that's still nearly half of the $8.1 million increase proposed by the school board.

More funding is not the answer. Allowing the school committee to follow through on its contractually-protected abilities to reduce staffing to be more aligned to the actual student population is.

Monday, May 14