EDITORIAL

School Department takes heat, for good reasons

Posted

Although the Warwick School Committee has seen its fair share of unhappy jeering, booing and overall derision at the hands of Warwick Teachers’ Union members and the general public during the prolonged contract upheaval, the pacifying promise of the new collective bargaining agreements last month made for a much more pleasant meeting in November.

There was no shouting, no yelling, no juvenility from grown adults who hopefully aren’t teaching conflict resolution in their classes.

That didn’t last long, as the union was back in full force Tuesday night shooting a heavy dose of venom at the committee throughout a four-hour horror show of a meeting.

However this time – although this publication has been heavily critical of certain ways the union has gone about their frustrations regarding the contract dispute, mainly in regards to the boorish behavior of some of its members at school committee meetings – it’s at least understandable in this instance why they would be so upset.

Plain and simple, the teachers got the short end of the stick thanks to what was either abysmal naivety or downright false promises on the part of the school committee and superintendent Philip Thornton – and they’re paying for it by not getting pay increases that were, quite literally, promised to them in a signed agreement.

School Committee chairwoman Beth Furtado signed a document, along with Union President Darlene Netcoh, on Nov. 20 that the teachers would receive both their retroactive pay raise check, and their new paycheck with their newly-raised salary reflected, on Dec. 21 – right before Christmas. The union ratified the contract the next day.

A teacher wishing to remain anonymous even said that they had heard from the administration that the timing of the checks would work out perfectly – it would be like a Christmas bonus, they had heard.

Now it has come to light that the school department cannot honor this agreement, because they don’t know how much money they’re getting from the city council in order to pay for the raises – which amounts to an approximately $4.8 million cost that is, currently, not budgeted for.

You can give a smidgen of credit to superintendent Thornton for sending out a notice to the teachers and essentially falling on the sword – but it remains a pretty awful turn of events, especially given how he seemed to try and lay the blame on the city council, rather than own up to the notion that the school department perhaps spoke too soon. In fact, had they perhaps been a little more cautious, there wouldn’t have been a sword to fall on at all.

Anybody who has spent even a little time involved with local government knows how long things can take to get done, and how quickly things can be rescheduled and pushed off. Thornton had to have known, back on Nov. 20 when Furtado signed this document, that this date of Dec. 21 was, at the very least, extremely ambitious.

The school department had not even gotten on the council docket yet at this time to discuss receiving the funds that the city is set to pay them – and, further, there is some serious disagreement going on in the background about just how much the schools are actually going to receive. Even if they get the $3.3 million that is commonly believed to be owed to them, they still need to carve out the $1.5 million shortfall.

Why on Earth, given all these uncertainties, the superintendent and the chairwoman would paint themselves into this corner – after years of this hellacious contract dispute and irreparable harm done to the relationship between the teachers and the administration – is beyond us. As if things weren’t bad enough, they scheduled Tuesday night’s meeting on the first night of Hanukah, angering even more people for completely separate, legitimate reasons.

Yikes.

In this instance, while we still don’t approve of yelling “shut up” to another human being in a demonic tone of voice during a public meeting with high school students present, in the middle of a junior high school auditorium, we can definitely empathize with the frustrations of those who may have been counting on that salary bump during the holidays.

Comments

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CrickeeRaven

"Why on Earth, given all these uncertainties, the superintendent and the chairwoman would paint themselves into this corner...?"

Because school departments are supposed to be funded properly by their host communities, and when city councils are told, months in advance, what a new contract might cost and removes that funding from the city budget, they're on the hook to fix the problem that they created by shirking their most basic responsibility to fund city and school operations.

Thursday, December 14, 2017
richardcorrente

"Plain and simple, the teachers got the short end of the stick".

That's a very gentle way of summarizing the above editorial. To pass the buck (literally) to the City Council is cowardly and false. The School Committee (SC) receives $160,000,000 of taxpayers hard-earned money each year and part of the budget is for raises, new hires etc. Furthermore, with all the laid-off teachers the SC should have a surplus of funds much greater than this expense. Lastly, there are only two possible reasons that the SC chair-person, Bethany Furtado made that written commitment and then reneged on it.

1. She lied. She never intended to keep her word, even though it was in writing.

2. She didn't lie, but something happened to the money she promised the SC was going to pay, and it happened in the last two weeks.

Either way, the SC committed a horrible offense, four days before Christmas. That's inhuman and the taxpayers/voters won't forget it. I won't let them.

Merry Christmas teachers.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, December 15, 2017
CrickeeRaven

"[W]ith all the laid-off teachers the SC should have a surplus of funds much greater than this expense."

The cost for the new contract is estimated at $4.5 million. There were 22 teachers laid off who then received unemployment insurance paid by the school district. There were some 40 other teachers who took early retirement [and are now collecting pensions funded by the school department] or otherwise left the district.

In other words, the costs for those teachers did not simply disappear, and they certainly did not create the imaginary "surplus" the fake "mayor" claims.

He also, yet again, ignores reality:

"[S]omething happened to the money [Furtado] promised the SC was going to pay, and it happened in the last two weeks."

What happened was, the city council failed to vote to restore the funding it previously removed from the budget that was supposed to pay for the new teacher contract. The council did not restore the money in time for the school department to include the retro pay in its payroll.

Rather than acknowledge reality, the fake "mayor" continues with the scare tactic of repeating the $160 million figure [including all those zeros must look scary to the uneducated readers that exist in his fevered imagination] and spreading conspiracy theories against the school committee. Accusing the school committee chairwoman of lying is just further proof that the fake "mayor" has assigned himself to deflect attention from his party's unanimous control of the city council and the misguided decision its members made to cut the teacher contract funding from the budget.

Honest, taxpaying voters in Warwick will not be scared into voting for him, and will in fact overwhelmingly reject his candidacy yet again next November.

Friday, December 15, 2017
Justanidiot

arguing money tings with the taxedprayer mayer is like trying to explain what red is to a blind man.

Monday, December 18, 2017
Justanidiot

Also, if you see the REAL paper of record for Warwick, The Pennysaver, you will see how the Taxpayer's mayer has cut taxes and spending.

**sigh**

Is this something that should be reported to the proper authorities? I can see where some people might become confused and think that the mayer is Mayor. If not, it is a fairly low road you are headed on.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017
CrickeeRaven

Hi Justanidiot:

Is it any surprise that he's using a low-budget publication for his low-value campaign? As long as his ads are labeled political advertisements, unfortunately he's allowed to publish anything he wants with no regard for whether it's true -- seems to be a theme for him, doesn't it?

We know better, though: spending is up $6.3 million in the FY18 budget, and tax revenue is up $1.7 million -- oh, and did you know that's based on a 99-percent tax collection rate? http://rhodybeat.com/stories/mayor-wont-veto-no-tax-increase-budget,25384?

I'm sure we can expect the "mayer" to be as open and transparent about his party's shady bookkeeping as he's been about his own.

Thursday, December 21, 2017
Justanidiot

CrickeeRaven,

If you have seen the publication, it appears at first glance to be a genuine unbiased news article. The part where it reads that it is a paid political ad is in teeny tiny unreadable by the elderly print.

Makes me proud that I voted for the mayer. A man of integrity. A man who cut my taxes, reduced spending, and single handily turned TF Green around and attracted many new clients including your New England Patriots.

Thursday, December 21, 2017
CrickeeRaven

Justanidiot:

Thanks for the info on the ad. I can't imagine what kind of effect he thinks it's going to have almost a year ahead of the election.

I'd really like to meet the mayer you voted for; sounds like a heck of a guy.

Thursday, December 21, 2017
richardcorrente

Dear Justanidiot,

Thanks for your vote. I sincerely hope I earn it again in 2018.

Dear CrickeeRaven,

You stated that you would like to meet me; that I sound like "a heck of a guy". My phone number and address are in the ad. Call or come in and say "Hello" anytime.

I'd be happy to meet you. I have nothing to hide. I'm sure you're not a lying coward that is hiding behind a fake name. Right?

Merry Christmas everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, December 22, 2017
CrickeeRaven

Sarcasm is yet another thing that can be added to the long, long list of things that the fake "mayor" fails at, in addition to paying his property taxes on time, telling the truth, backing up his statements with proof, and understanding that use of screen names is allowed by the owners of this website.

Tens of thousands of honest, taxpaying voters already know enough about him without meeting him in person to overwhelmingly reject his candidacy again next November.

Friday, December 22, 2017