Optimism grows for pact as teacher talks continue

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Unless there’s a dramatic turn of events, a second Warwick academic year will come to a close without a teachers contract.

But as disheartening as that prospect seems, there’s a positive feel from those close to negotiations as well as teachers interviewed last week that chances of a settlement are better now than they have been since the last contract expired in August 2015. What’s fueling such optimism is continued mediation – with one daylong session – despite the absence of Vincent Ragosta, an attorney and mediator.

Mayor Scott Avedisian, who has attended mediation since this winter, stepped in to facilitate sessions in Ragosta’s absence. Talks have also been held in the absence of the mayor and Ragosta. Avedisian deferred comment to Ragosta but is hopeful an end to the prolonged dispute that has shadowed the district and made for contentious school committee meetings is in sight.

Those differences have not only been bones of contention during mediation but also in interest arbitration and complaints brought to the state Labor Relations Board and the courts.

Interest arbitration that identified about 12 issues including a system of “weighting” special needs students as more than one student in determining class size, salaries, sick days and the use of seniority in filling job fair positions has been completed, but the arbitrator has yet to convene a panel with a representative from each of the parties to render a decision. The more issues the sides can resolve now, the less likely either side is to be surprised by an adverse decision. The same can be said for cases before the Labor Relations Board and the courts. Presumably, if an agreement were reached those cases would be withdrawn.

The court has already leaned in favor of the school committee, finding it did not have to follow the terms of the expired contract when it consolidated secondary schools, laying off more than 20 teachers as the former contract specified. The committee closed Gorton and Aldrich Junior High Schools and Veterans Memorial High School. Last fall, Vets opened as a junior high.

“I have given the parties some direction and they’re working somewhat independently,” Ragosta said in an interview Friday. He said the sides are “working very responsibly and diligently. I’m encouraged.”

He would not confirm that the parties have narrowed the outstanding issues identified in interest arbitration down to five points as rumored.

Without disclosing specifics of the process, Ragosta said he suggested the parties use a method of resolving differences he has found successful in other cases.

“They have embraced that and I give them credit for working independently,” he said. He described the technique as “compelling both sides to put their best foot forward.”

Warwick Teachers Union president Darlene Netcoh agreed Monday that progress is being made, reminding that talks, not court action, is the “only method to produce an agreement.”

Mediation has been postponed this week because of high school graduations but will resume next week.

“They enjoy going to court,” Netcoh said of the School Committee.

Nonetheless, at the committee’s request, the court has postponed the committee’s argument that the union can’t file a grievance and proceed to arbitration since the teachers lack a contract.

“They refuse to honor the terms of conditions [as they applied to the former contract] as they apply,” she said. Netcoh pointed out that is a departure from the practice of the past 25 years.

Apart from mediation, it would appear there will be the funds to pay for a contract even though the City Council sliced the additional $3 million in city funding Avedisian allocated for schools in his $310.5 million budget, saying he had an agreement with the superintendent that $2.4 million would be earmarked to implement a contract The council trimmed $5 million from Avedisian’s budget so as to hold the line on taxes. It also pledged it would support a $3 million draw down from the rainy day fund if an agreement is reached.

In his follow-up message he would not veto any of the 29 budget amendments made by the council, Avedisian was hopeful deletion of the school appropriation would not dampen talks. He also said should an agreement be reached he would be requesting an appropriation.

Comments

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richardcorrente

I don't know what the teachers should get for a new contract. A lot of that is kept secret between the School Committee (SC) and the Warwick Teachers Union as it should be. The budget of $160,000,000+- for an ever-decreasing number of teachers suggests that there should be money available for raises unless the SC keeps adding to their staff. Maybe the teachers deserve more. Maybe the teachers deserve less. Here is what I do know. Whatever they deserve today is much more than they deserved 2 years ago. Warwicks' teachers have suffered without a contract for so long that they deserve extra just for the emotional stress the SC has caused.

I hope the new contract is announced soon and I sincerely hope the time expense is compensated for, in the end result.

Happy Summer teachers

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, June 13
Scal1024

The above comment by the losing candidate for mayor demons

Tuesday, June 13
Scal1024

*demonstrates why not everyone should run for office.

Raises? Emotional stress?

You are a clueless, pandering buffoon who will say anything to gain favor with the same special interests you denounce others for using.

Another pathetic, pandering statement from Corrente.

The (non) taxpayers mayor.

Tuesday, June 13
richardcorrente

Dear Scal1024,

So you think it's OK for the teachers to wait this long without a new contract?? Are you out of your mind Scal? The Municipal Employees would never tolerate that would they Scal? I wouldn't work under those conditions and I don't think you would either. The teachers, (whose union did NOT endorse me) shouldn't be submitted to that poor treatment either. Should they Scal?

And you said "Raises?" as if I said they should get one. Please re-read the part that says "Maybe the teachers deserve more. Maybe the teachers deserve less."

It's not pathetic pandering Scal. It's just an honest observation. If you don't agree with it, don't read it!

Take good care Scal.

Happy Summer everyone

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, June 13
Scal1024

Rick, so maybe they should get a raise? Maybe they shouldn't? You're basically admitting your comment was a paragraph full of nothing. Thanks, I've been saying that for close to 2 years.

I don't know if the municipal employees would work without a contract you'd have to ask them. What i do know is when a candidate bends over backwards to pander to the teachers (union), and still doesn't get their endorsement that speaks volumes.

Tuesday, June 13
Thecaptain

Lets examine more facts that the buffoon failed candidate doesn't realize. I'll say it again for the 50th time since he doesn't comprehend facts. Warwick has the 8th highest paid teachers in the country and the 4th lowest scores in the country. Warwick graduating seniors have an average math proficiency of 17% and average science proficiency of 11% (per RI Dept. of Education High School Report Card October 2013).

Naturally we have a top heavy administration, but the teachers have a very sweet deal and have had for many years. The failed candidate forgets that for years the teachers paid $11.00 a week for the best healthcare in the world.

Yes we need new schools, but with the unfunded liabilities that this city has due to political give away's to the unions, we will never see a new school. Teachers are part of that problem as well.

Too few students, too many teachers, and a contract that ignores the need for balanced numbers of teachers according to what the community needs. Another union pay off.

All the failed candidate would need to do is 3 minutes worth of research before opening his pie hole and spewing stupidity. The teachers, police, fire fighters, DPW, mayor, admin staff, and every other employee deserves only what the community is able to pay, based upon its fiscal soundness. I'm tired of hearing that the firefighters are hero's, the teachers are the best in the world, and our DPW stays up all night long to plow. No one dragged them screaming and kicking to the sweet jobs that they enjoy.

If the failed candidate could read he would see numerous articles such as these:

http://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/states-highest-lowest-teacher-salaries.html/?a=viewall

https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-for-teachers/7159/#main-findings

And by the way, Rhode Island has the 5th highest spending per public school student, and I believe Warwick is the highest in the state , or second highest.

Tuesday, June 13
CrickeeRaven

As expected, the fake "mayor" could not resist posting on this site and adding more proof of his unfitness for office.

Blaming the school committe for the ongoing contract impasse (which has been proceeding under legally-guided arbitration and negotiations that both sides agreed to participate in) is yet further proof of his failure to grasp even the most basic of facts.

His bullying of other commenters is likewise troubling, given his clearly poor understanding of contract law that requires legal review when questions arise like what happens when the union claims an expired contract is still in effect.

(Answer: they lose the court case and are ordered by a judge back to arbitration.)

Tuesday, June 13
Scal1024

"Maybe the teachers deserve more. Maybe the teachers deserve less."- Rick Corrente

"Warwicks teachers have suffered without a contract for so long that they deserve extra just for the emotional stress the SC has caused."- Rick Corrente

You can see how both quotes from just one comment show the nonsense being spewed out by the losing candidate for mayor. Usually when called out for things like this, or his lack of understanding of basic facts Rick finds an honor roll article to comment on.

If you think the teachers should be rewarded for not having a contract, what's to stop teachers from holding out in 5 years knowing they'll be "rewarded" following a long impasse. Again, this is the type of short sighted thinking everyone has grown used to from Rick.

Its not "anti teacher" either I know alot of great teachers in Warwick. It comes down to long term affordability and whether it was past or present school committees, superintendents, unions or teachers fault we are where we are now. For the financial future of the city a reasonable deal needs to be worked out. Layoff numbers need to be adjusted to reflect declining enrollment. If the administration can be reduced or cut in any way than that also needs to be a priority.

In 2 sentences i've put more ideas on the table then Corrente has in 2 years.

Tuesday, June 13
richardcorrente

Dear Scal1024,

Your last post quotes me twice. Thank you for that.

I was trying to put the focus on the length of time the teachers were waiting, not the increase/decrease of their pay. Because they waited so long (through no fault of their own) I feel they deserve more than if they got a new contract in a proper amount of time...but you knew that, didn't you Scal.

You also state "what's to stop the teachers from holding out in 5 year, knowing they will be "rewarded" following a long impasse." Scal, you know that statement is dishonest. You know the TEACHERS aren't the ones holding out. I have written dozens of times about how the teachers are NOT the guilty party delaying the negotiations. The School Committee (SC) is the sole cause of the delay. If the teachers caused it I would agree with you and I would not want a penny more for them. But you know better Scal. You know that the teachers union is willing to sit and negotiate and the SC is causing now YEARS of delay. And Scal, if you think otherwise you ARE being "anti-teacher". Please don't pretend that you're not.

I do agree wholeheartedly with your last statement however, when you say "If the administration can be reduced or cut in any way, that also needs to be a priority." Seems like I have been saying that too Scal, for over 2 years!

Thanks for agreeing with that part, at least.

Scal, let's look at it from a numbers point of view. We have just about the same amount of money ($160,000,000) that we have had for 8 or 9 years, but the number of teachers are far less. Mathematically we should be able to afford huge raises for the teachers, but we can't and that is a question that the SC NEEDS to answer to you, me and the 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab Scal. I don't like the "level funding" idea because the same amount of money divided by a much lower amount of teachers isn't "level" at all. Can we agree on that as well? (It would be 2 items in a row! A new Scal/Corrente record)

Can we agree on that Scal?

Always good to hear from you. Please try to be more accurate when you quote me.

Happy Summer Scal.

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Wednesday, June 14
ThatGuyInRI

Dick & Scal,

You both have some of your facts wrong so you're both right that the other is wrong.

Now please continue ripping each other, it's very entertaining.

Wednesday, June 14
CrickeeRaven

Once again, the fake "mayor" accuses others of inaccuracies when his own statements are false.

Specifically, there are not 80,000 taxpayers in Warwick. There are 80,000 residents. Not all of them are taxpayers [and the fake "mayor" is included in that group, as he does not pay property taxes on the residence he claims as his primary address].

Until he corrects this obvious and blatant falsehood, anything else the fake tax cheaters' "mayor" says should be disregarded.

Wednesday, June 14
richardcorrente

Dear ThatGuyInRI,

Thanks for your comment. For the record I greatly respect Scal1028, although I disagree with his point of view. I am sure he is an Avedisian supporter and has the task of bashing the mayor's opponent from a anonymous source.

As for CrickeeRaven,

We look at the 80,000 people who live here in different points of view. I consider them all taxpayers, either directly or through their parents. Taxes cost all 80,000 of us. CrickeeRaven can choose to ignore our children but I won't. I believe tax cuts help all 80,000 and tax increases hurt all 80,000 therefore we are all taxpayers, one way or another. Also, I have explained this to CrickeeRaven in the past. Whoever he/she is, knows exactly where I stand. The "fake" in this discussion is the person hiding behind a "fake" name. You have to admit. That's cowardly.

Happy Summer ThatGuyInRI.

Happy Summer CrickeeRaven.

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, June 15
CrickeeRaven

The prior comment by the fake "mayor" once again indicates his poor grasp of facts as he again resorts to bullying other commenters.

Specifically, this website allows (meaning the owners say it's OK, to use simple words he can understand) for commenters to use screen names.

He has previously attempted to enforce rules for use of the site that the owners have not put in place, and as these attempts have been before, this latest effort proves his thin skin and hypocrisy.

Until he addresses the factual errors he makes on a routine basis (80,000 residents are not all taxpayers, but he knew that already, didn't he?), any other statements made by the tax cheat fake "mayor" should be disregarded.

Thursday, June 15
CrickeeRaven

Hello again Scal1024, and welcome, ThatGuyInRI:

Do you find it ironic, as I do, that the tax cheat fake "mayor" would criticize one commenter's use of a screen name -- to another commenter using a screen name? Specifically, he seems to approve of ThatGuyInRI's pseudonym but accuses Scal of somehow being in the employ of the winning mayor with absolutely no proof [which, as frequent readers have seen, is precisely the losing candidate's modus operandi on many topics].

And do you find it rather pathetic, as I do, that the fake "mayor" would accuse others of being "cowardly" when, on multiple occasions, he has gone silent when presented with facts that directly refute his claims and public information that proves his property tax delinquency? Were the fake "mayor" seeking to uphold some standard of bravery, do you agree that perhaps he would address these issues directly?

And finally, do you find it presumptuous, as I do, that he would say things like "you have to agree" to assertions that only he is making? Perhaps you agree that no one "has" to agree with anything the fake "mayor" says, especially because he has proven himself as having a poor grasp of facts; as falsely presuming he has support following his overwhelming election loss; and as lacking enough self-awareness to know when he is behaving in a blatantly hypocritical manner.

Thursday, June 15
Thecaptain

I enjoy posting fact that has been obtained through the APRA process. These facts refute the Non-Taxpayer Mayors comments on a regular basis. For instance, the records from the District court and Superior Court clearly show that the Tax Cheat Corrente, failed to pay property taxes for many years, lost his house due to non payment of taxes and mortgage, continued to try to save face during the election after I presented these facts and even after the house was sold twice, knowing that he had no chance to recover. In particular, the tax cheat was represented by a coke head lawyer who failed to show several times, who was remanded to Butler hospital, who was reprimanded by the courts, had numerous complaints filed against him, and is now dead from drugs.

And the tax cheat non mayor actually believes in his own mind that he has competent decision making capabilities? As I have said publicly many times, anytime the tax cheat would love to have a debate on any civic issue, i'll pay for the venue and the food and it will surely be entertaining. Some links below for your reading pleasure.

http://www.providencejournal.com/news/courts/20141123-r.i.-supreme-court-disciplines-four-lawyers.ece

http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/george-e-babcock-esq/pawtucket-rhode-island-02864/george-e-babcock-esq-babcock-law-office-mindy-montecalvo-esq-crooks-just-give-the-ba-1192366

Saturday, June 17