LETTERS

Reaching teacher agreement is 'my' priority

Posted

Open letter to Carol Carr:

I am in receipt of your recent letter regarding the ongoing contract dispute between the teachers’ union and the school committee within the Warwick Public School district. Please allow me to address your recent concerns outlined in your letter.

First, I understand your frustration as contract negotiations continue. The issue of the unresolved contract is a great point of frustration for me, too. As you may be aware, I have continued to host open dialogue meetings with both superintendent Thornton, as well as Union President Netcoh.

Additionally, we are actively engaged in mediation sessions where all parties meet and work to resolve the remaining issues surrounding the contract dispute. I have personally taken on an active role in the discussions between the parties, and have sat in on every mediation session to date. I have done this despite the fact that I have no legal authority to negotiate a contract resolution. Under Warwick’s city charter, in accordance with state law, I can only act in an advisory role. Ultimately, it is up to the parties involved whether they choose to act on or follow my advice and proposals. With that said, it has been, and will remain, my first priority to work with all parties involved to reach an agreement in an amicable manner. To that end, we have just scheduled our next mediation session for Saturday, May 6.

As for my presence at School Committee meetings or Warwick Community Outreach Educational Committee meetings, I do not attend those meetings because I am not an official member. However, the makeup of the Warwick Community Outreach Educational Committee was designed to have representation of teachers, school and city administration, constituents and other elected officials. As you know, residents elect School Committee members.

Furthermore, while the city funds the school department, I do not have the power or jurisdiction to force the union and/or the school committee to reach an agreement. At every turn, I have remained in contact with the Union, School Committee and School Department, with the priority being, that which is in the best interest of our schoolchildren. Superintendent Thornton and I, together with other elected officials, continue to work on rebuilding trust and confidence between all parties. It has been and remains my hope that City and school officials can work together, continue to have open lines of communication and reach compromises that are in the best interest of the students in our community. This issue is of utmost importance to me, and I know our students are the ones most affected by this ongoing dispute. I will continue to do everything I can to help facilitate a contract agreement and I have repeatedly reminded all those involved with the negotiations that we must act in the best interest of our students.

Finally, as I am sure you can imagine, my office is flooded with letters and requests similar to yours. I, along with my staff, work diligently to address each and every concern that comes across our desks. I can assure you that my staff takes all constituent concerns and complaints seriously and brings them to the appropriate channels of authority for resolutions. I ’m sorry you feel as though your concerns were not addressed as swiftly as you would like, but please realize that your letter, while dated April 5,2017,was hand delivered to my office yesterday, April 11, 2017. I have relayed your concerns to my Chief of Staff and we’d like to schedule a time for you to come in and speak to both of us. Please contact my secretary, Carol Caruso at 738-2004.

I hope this helps clarify my stance and participation on the ongoing contract negotiations. Like everyone else, I hope an agreement is reached quickly.

Thank you again for writing.

Scott Avedisian

Mayor

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richardcorrente

Dear Mayor Avedisian,

You stated in the above letter that you would be willing to meet with Carol Carr and I applaud that. It is unfortunate that she had to go to such lengths to get you to do it, but you are doing it. I think you realize now that you should have answered her before she wrote her letter-to-the-editor. That is a mistake on your part that I would never have made.

You also said that you don't attend the School Committee meetings because you are not an official member. I always go to those meetings and just so that you will know; you don't have to be "an official member" to attend as you claim. All you have to be is a concerned member of the audience. Like me. Like the parents. Like the students. Like the teachers. Like the 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab. Like everyone else that attends. All you have to do is care. Your absence shows that you don't..

You also ignored the growing teacher-contract problem for over a year. That was a complete dereliction of duty. You have, however, stepped up in recent months and I give you credit for that. You're right. State law only allows you to have an advisory role. If it were me I would be more involved with my "advisory role" much like former Mayor Joe Walsh did. I believe the taxpayers deserve you to be "more involved" as well. If you do, I believe you won't have as many picketers in front of City Hall and you will have a better chance of beating me in the 2018 elections. Either way, the students should come out ahead and I think we can agree on the importance of that.

Happy summer Mayor Avedisian

Happy summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

4 days ago | Report this
FedUp

I am not a member of the school committee nor do I have a vote but I have a vested interest in improving Warwick Schools. Mr. Avedesian, you do too. The state of our schools is a reflection of every elected official in this city. I understand the city charter and the separation of the school committee from the mayor and city council, but the fact remains that each and every one of you- every school committee member, every council representative and the mayor are elected by the citizens of Warwick. You cannot rest on your laurels that you are not a member of the committee.

We should all want better schools for our children. People move to cities for school systems, not airports, not hotels.

This is more than just contracts. This is funding repairs in our school and capital improvements. This is not fixing gym floors and auditorium seating, this is safety with fire alarm systems and fire windows not working. Your attention to trying to broker a contract is commendable but Warwick Schools need more than platitudes and contract negotiations. It can start with your office but you cannot continue to plead that you have no say.

4 days ago | Report this