Teachers decry school committee following denial of raises


The Warwick School Committee was heavily criticized during their December meeting on Tuesday night at Warwick Veterans Junior High School due to being unable to deliver promised retroactive and proactive raises to the teachers on time for their Dec. 21 paychecks, as was agreed to by union president Darlene Netcoh and committee chairwoman Beth Furtado prior to the ratification of the new collective bargaining agreements.

The night started off with around 50 teachers picketing in the hallways outside the Vets auditorium, donning signs reading “HONOR OUR CONTRACT,” “FOLLOW THE CONTRACT YOU SIGNED,” and a particularly colorful one which had a caricature version of Superintendent Philip Thornton’s face superimposed over Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, labeled “How the Grinch Violates our Contract.”

Although a brief singing and music intro from the Warwick Vets Choir made for a peaceful start to the night, frustration oozed from the teachers in the audience shortly after regular business commenced. Shouts and disapproving jeers continued throughout the night, multiple times prompting committee members to ask for quiet so they could hear administrators giving presentations.

The tensions reached a boiling point following committee member Karen Bachus asking, plainly, whether or not the teachers would receive their retroactive and proactive pay raises on Dec. 21 or not.

“The current budget as adopted does not have that expenditure budgeted,” answered Anthony Ferrucci, chief budget officer for the school department, continuing to report that they could only allocate money towards the pay increases once they were made aware of how much money would be given to them by the Warwick City Council.

“I am very, very disturbed by this,” Bachus continued. “I think we need to find a way to make transfers and do whatever we need to do to pay our teachers.” She suggested allocating money from elsewhere in the school budget, like future salaries to be paid, to satisfy the raises and then get the money from the council to make up for it.

The total cost for the raises is around $4.8 million. Ferrucci said that they would be requesting $4.5 million from the council. The council only withheld about $3.3 million from the school department during budget season with the caveat that they would receive that money once a contract was reached with the teachers.

Ferrucci said that, both tangibly and legally, doing what Bachus suggested was impossible.

“The identification of $4.5 million to transfer, I have no clue where that comes from,” he said. “The school committee is responsible for maintaining a school budget which does not result in a debt…The issue is we have to come back to you with a recommendation for a revised budget to formally let you know what this expenditure is and what our action plan is. We won’t know what that is until we know what the revenue stream is from the city.”

After Furtado tried to move the meeting along following the discussion, Bachus interjected.

“This really sucks, Beth,” she exclaimed. “You wonder why I get freaking nutty up here…You created a contract and allowed a contract to be signed, and the money isn’t there. Now that is a problem. You do don’t do that. If the money isn’t there you don’t resolve the contract.”

Netcoh reiterated the teachers’ grievance about the raises during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“I wrote a letter to the chair of the school committee – actually two letters. I did receive a response from the superintendent but I still haven’t received a response from the chair of the school committee,” she said. “My letter was simply asking whether or not the school committee would honor the Dec. 21, 2017 date that I have on a piece of paper with Ms. Furtado’s signature and my own. She signed it on Nov. 20 and we ratified the contract on Nov. 21. If I did not have that signature and that date, then I would not have put that date in front of the members and they would not have voted that evening to ratify.”

Netcoh said that the union would not be rescinding their vote declaring “no confidence” in both Thornton and Furtado, which they voted on back in October.

“This needs to be honored. That’s why people here are upset. That’s why you lack credibility, and that’s why we have no confidence and that’s why we have people calling for resignations and firings and everything else,” she said. “Do your job like you’re supposed to do. Please.”

Furtado did not respond to a request for comment.


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Before the fake "mayor" chimes in with more conspiracy theories and attacks on the school committee, here again are Mr. Ferrucci's words about the budget passed by the city council:

"The current budget as adopted does not have that expenditure budgeted." As he accurately states, the Democratic city council did not provide funding for the salary increases in the new teacher contract, leaving the school department without the money to pay for it and still remain within its FY18 budget.

It is both logically and factually incorrect to blame the school committee for the city council's misstep.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

I agree with you in part - shocking, I know. My only question is, If you're the WSC, why sign a contract that mandates certain payouts by certain dates if there is the possibility those dates can't be met? Amend the contract to incorporate a rider in the event this pops up. It looks like poor financial planning by the committee, whether it's their fault or not. It's bad optics. It presents the perception that the committee doesn't know how to balance its own budget.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hello again Bg9385:

I'm not being sarcastic when I say I appreciate your reply and perspective on this topic. My guess why the WSC proceeded the way it did was that they knew Mayor Avedisian was in favor of keeping the original $3.3 million in the budget despite the city council's decision, and in fact suggested that they'd have to restore the money, after all. That gave the school committee a sort of reassurance to negotiate and sign a deal.

Now, beyond that, there's Thornton's statement about not getting the issue on the council agenda in December. Ultimately, that decision -- like the one about budgeting the money -- is up to the city council, so what he's saying is certainly possible.

And as far as putting riders into a contract, as I said in another comment, the funding mechanism is the city council; it's a matter of longstanding legal precedent that any school contract is negotiated by the school committee and funded by the community. I would also imagine, if such language were put into a contract, that a city council could just decide not to pay for it.

[Hope you're sitting down for the next part.]

I can empathize with the teachers on this issue, because the new contract seems to be a fair one, where each side got something.

And that's the real shame of this whole thing, because the parties to the contract seem to have actually reached a good agreement -- and now the city council is shirking their responsibility.

They were warned about taking money out of the city budget for the teacher contract, and they did it anyway.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Now I am getting criticized even before I comment. No matter what I say, CrickeeRaven will say it is wrong, and in this case, it's even before I say anything.

I was at the School Committee meeting Tuesday night. I promised commenter Kammy I would ask "If the School Committee has the money in (a) the cash reserve from the health benefits, (b) the money saved from all the salaries of the laid-off teachers, and (c) the money already accounted for in the annual $160,000,000 budget, then why can't you pay the teachers their agreed-upon checks on December 21st?"

I thought I would not get an answer and I didn't. The rule is for public comment, not for questions and answers, but I promised to try, and I did. I spoke at the podium and said that "if" (and that is an honest "if", because we in the general public haven't seen anything in writing yet), the School Committee said IN WRITING that the teachers would receive a certain amount of money by a certain date (we believe that date is December 21st.) then they MUST honor that WRITTEN COMMITTMENT. If not "there will be hell to pay and I will be one of the people that lead the charge."

I met with President of the Warwick Teachers Union, Darlene Netcoh briefly, in the hall, who confirmed that the contract is not yet public. She said it was being proofread and should be available soon. I also had a conversation with the Chief Budget Officer, Anthony Ferrucci, before the meeting began. He was cordial and professional, and invited me to visit him in his office the next day (Wed. 12-13-17). I did. From 2 PM to almost 4 PM he gave me respectful answers to my several, hard questions. I left his office with a large 3-ring binder of his proposed $85 million project plan and an opinion of him as a man who sincerely wants to make Warwick a better place to live, and is willing to, at least, listen to those that disagree with him. In his "heart and in his belly" (his words) he believes that the "80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab" (my words) will overwhelmingly support the tax increase needed for these improvements. I told him "Anthony, you couldn't be more wrong" "This is not about money. It's about how the School Committee (SC) has lost all credibility. The taxpayers won't TRUST the SC with one more dollar, let alone $85 million! The David LaPlante scandal. The Mario Atoyian scandal. The whole idea about The Ragosta Report being "verbal" when we all knew that it wasn't, and finally, the complete lack of participation in the teachers contract talks by the School Committee and the Mayor". "If the teachers were promised December 21st, then Anthony! They have to receive their money ON DECEMBER 21st." He said that it would not happen by December 21st. I pressed the issue, explaining how it was 4 days before Christmas, but he wouldn't, or couldn't, do it. I thanked him sincerely for his time. He didn't have to give me the respect of a returned phone call, but instead he gave me almost two hours, and I truly appreciate that he did. I left his office feeling better about the adversarial relationship he has with me, the City Council and what I believe to be a huge number of taxpayers. He feels "it's only a few upset parents". I told him he's wrong. He told me he was right. Fair enough.

Anthony, I appreciate that you believe. I analyzed the numbers you gave me. They are overpriced in my opinion, but not dramatically. The problem is; no one will believe that the SC will spend this $85 million any better than the $160 million the taxpayers ALREADY gave. Anthony, the teachers are right. It's not about the money. It's about credibility, and the School Committee doesn't have any credibility left. What they are doing 4 days before Christmas is disgustingly inhuman. Call it criminal. Call it breach of contract. It still is disgusting inhuman. The taxpayers/voters won't forget it. I won't let them.

Merry Christmas Anthony Ferrucci.

Merry Christmas teachers.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, December 14, 2017

In a blatant attempt to get sympathy, the fake "mayor" once again proves his poor grasp of facts:

- "No matter what I say, CrickeeRaven will say it is wrong, and in this case, it's even before I say anything."

The fact is, he has repeatedly blamed the school committee for the city council's decision not to include funding in the current budget to cover the increased costs of the teacher contract. In his prior comment on this page, he again does nothing to correct his erroneous assertions.

- "I thought I would not get an answer [from the school committee] and I didn't. The rule is for public comment, not for questions and answers..."

So he went to a school committee meeting expecting to get answers without knowing the committee's rules for public comment. This shows that he does not understand how a public meeting is run.

- "The David LaPlante scandal. The Mario Atoyian scandal. The whole idea about The Ragosta Report being "verbal" when we all knew that it wasn't, and finally, the complete lack of participation in the teachers contract talks by the School Committee and the Mayor."

Those two scandals have been adjudicated, and happened under the former superintendent, who, with two other top administrators, are gone. The Ragosta report was made public, in writing, as soon as two local media outlets secured the legal rights to publish it. The school committee and union held 26 meetings over two years and actual Mayor Avedesian helped to facilitate the new contract, including hosting the decisive meeting held in City Hall.

- "It's about credibility..."

With his continued and repeated false statements, the fake "mayor" proves yet again that he has none, and deserves no sympathy when his words are disproven. Tens of thousands of honest, taxpaying voters will feel the same when they overwhelmingly reject his candidacy again next November.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Mayor, city council, superintendent, school committee and teachers union look ridiculous. The Mayor, council and superintendent should be leading from the front and made sure this was on the meeting agenda. The union is going to get paid. Going to the mattresses as an initial response shows how lacking the leadership is. The city just got to labor peace. A total and all around embarrassment.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Explain how the union looks ridiculous. This is a matter of principle, not necessarily the money. The contract has been in effect for less than a month and there are already hiccups. People would be hammering the union if the reneged on the contract - similar to how people jumped on them for the "sick outs". Let's be consistent.

Friday, December 15, 2017


The only thing I see that has been consistent is the greed displayed by the teachers. Sorry that there was some procedural issues and y’all have to wait two extra months to get your exorbitant retro checks.

And by pulling this publicity stunt it makes the union look ridiculous. But I guess that’s better than holding the citizens of the city hostage with your sick-outs.

And Mr. Corrente....everyone who has ever paid attention at a School Committee meeting knows they don’t answer questions.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hey Paul...we’ll withhold money you rightfully earned - and legally, based on a signed contract - from you for at least two months after you’re promised it. We’ll find out how understanding you are. My guess it probably not very. You’re quick to shun the union for their “stunt” - which was what, showing up to a school committee meeting and holding up a few cheap cardboard signs? But you’ll turn a blind eye to reneging on a contract. Makes sense.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Council President Solomon is quoted in an article posted today blaming the school committee for missing the deadline to get the retro pay vote on the council docket for the Dec. 21 council meeting -- but he seems to have the same questionable grasp of facts as the fake "mayor."


According to the article, the school committee approved the contract on Nov. 15 and the WTU approved the contract on Nov. 21. How, exactly, is it the school committee's fault that the union did not approve the contract in time to get the matter on the council docket?

Given the urgency and importance of the contract, it's also hard to believe that the council president would not take additional steps to add the matter to the agenda for Dec. 21.

This appears to be another attempt at deflection by the fake "mayor's" party for withholding the school contract funding and requiring an additional request for the money to be spent.

An earlier article shows that Councilman Ladouceur made the motion to withhold the money that would have funded the contract upon its approval by both parties: https://warwickpost.com/warwick-city-council-oks-305-million-budget-no-tax-increase-seven-firefighter-jobs-in-doubt/

And now, as we've learned, the figure may be as much as $4.5 million, which may require the council to transfer the money from other areas in the city budget unless they plan to issue a supplemental tax bill.

Had the contract funding been left intact in July, the teachers would now have their retro pay.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Another potentially troubling note from the newest article linked in my prior comment: "Solomon noted the City Council has not yet been provided legislative language concerning the contract."

In its December 2017 newsletter, the WTU states: "The WTU and the WSC will now proofread the CBAs before they are printed."


It is now nearly a month since the school committee and WTU held their respective votes on the contract, and apparently they have yet to complete the proofreading of the two contracts, one for the time prior to 2017 and the other for after 2017.

According to the article on this page, WTU president Netcoh brought the school committee-approved contract to her membership with a letter from school committee chairwoman Furtado saying that the retro payments would be made on Dec. 21: "If I did not have that signature and that date, then I would not have put that date in front of the members and they would not have voted that evening [Nov. 21] to ratify.”

What Netcoh is saying is that the WTU sought reassurances for retro pay, holding open the potential to further delay a vote on the contracts they negotiated -- and that it takes at least another month to "proofread" the contracts -- ?

Not only that, but the Dec. 21 date was apparently part of a letter from Furtado [not language in the contracts] that also has not been made public. The WTU newsletter only states that the "go-forward rate," or the contractual raise, would go into effect on Dec. 21.

So, the WTU is looking to enforce a letter [not the contracts, despite what the union protesters claimed] that promised retro pay on a date that even the union did not publish in its newsletter, without completing its obligation to proofread the contracts so they could be submitted to the city council.

Granted, it could be argued that the school committee has not proofread the contracts, either -- but both sides had to complete the process before going to the city council to ensure that the contract language was uniform between them. According to Solomon, the school committee did attempt to get the issue on the December council agenda; the WTU needs to answer for its part in the delay.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The facts have been presented as to why the checks weren't in the mail. It isn't as if the teachers aren't getting paid currently. Some make it seem like they are going home at the end of the day with zero dollars. That simply isn't true. There was no guarantee just two months ago that retro pay would even be an option . You are simply having a delay on retro pay. The WTU is digging a hole they won't be able to get out of. Act like professional adults and not whinny children that didn't get what they wanted under the tree this year. Honestly, I don't have any more patience for these tactics anymore. YOU WILL GET YOUR MONEY.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dear Kammy,

Respectfully, you are missing the point. The teachers were promised. The promise was broken. It doesn't matter if it was for twenty bucks. The promise was broken. And it was broken 4 days before Christmas Kammy, which makes your "whiney children" remark way, way off the mark and truthfully, beneath you.

It's a matter of integrity. The School Committee made a promise. They should have A. not promised, or B. do whatever it takes to keep that written promise. Tap their reserves; take an advance from their budget; withdraw from the cash reserve in the health benefits fund...something...anything... to improve their integrity 4 days before Christmas.

They didn't.

There is an old saying "When confidence becomes arrogance; failure follows." The School Committee desperately needed to booster their image. Even their public relations firm told them that. This latest broken promise destroyed what little credibility they had left. Their "arrogance" is destroying their image.

On the other hand, I made you a promise. I promised I would ask the School Committee a question at your request. I did. I knew the "Public Comment" portion would not allow a question, but I promised I would try. I did. It ended up being a rhetorical question. That's the difference between "confidence" and "arrogance".

The School Committee needs credibility. They refuse to make the effort. They refuse to give their word and keep it! That's what's wrong with the Warwick Schools, and that is why I have continued to bash them.

Merry Christmas Kammy.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Hello again Kammy:

Please don't let the fake "mayor's" condescending and dishonest statements bother you.

It is also pathetic that he should talk about arrogance and confidence; this is the same person, as you know, who has regularly called himself by a made-up title, dismissed others' comments because they use screen names, attacked the school committee for failing to spend money his party's city council members did not give them, and consistently made objectively false statements -- and yet still believes himself a viable candidate for the mayor's office. One statement made in front of the school committee does not erase all of his well-documented past behavior.

Stating that certain comments are "beneath you" is only the latest evidence of his arrogance toward others. He has no right to characterize your very astute observations that the teachers union should stop their PR stunts and act professionally.

I look forward to joining you and tens of thousands of honest, taxpaying voters in Warwick in rejecting the arrogant, presumptuous, lying candidate next November.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I stand by my whinny children statement 100%. I am not missing any point nor do I believe that stating my opinion is beneath me. Do you feel that stating your opinion is beneath you? If so, you have a LOT of digging out to do based on your past statements. While we may have reached a level of tolerance, that doesn't mean you get to determine what is beneath me or not. Perhaps a review of some of your comments is in order.

The timeline has been explained. The WTU response to the delay was ridiculously over the top. They will get their retro pay. They decided to picket and it really just made them appear to be greedy and demanding. The road to the contract was long, tedious and rocky. Nothing was learned if the first response to the December 21st date was to publicly picket. Sorry but you garner no sympathy from me over the delay.

Also, the $3.3 million that is supposed to go towards paying the teachers was purposely left out of the FY2018 budget and would be released once the contract was completed. Your solution is use the money they already have in their budget but there would be no guarantee they would still receive the $3.3 million that was previously set aside solely for the teachers retro pay. If there are questions regarding the money, why place all blame on the WCU? Why not Ferrucci or the Mayor? Why wasn't it put on the December agenda? I am just so tired of all the back and forth.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

For more comedy relief watch as the Mayor Dumbness gets yelled at by the council president for randomly walking into the roped off council area during hearings. What a dope.


Scroll to the 2:35:00 mark and watch the nit wit.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hey Kammy, the thought of teachers neighing like ponies is entertaining. So thank you for the image, even though your intention was to say whiny. Spelling isn’t a strong suit for everyone.

I agree with you about the tedious nature of the contract negotiations. Where you lose me is the first response from the teachers. That’s 100% acceptable considering the first action was the WSC and/or city council dropping the ball. Written on paper or implied, it’s part of why the contract was agreed upon.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

It's a good thing the teachers never "promised" to educate Warwick's students...

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Bg9385 - Shall I show my contrition at my typo by falling into the traditional dogeza for you? Using that as your over-the-top first response pretty much cements my reasoning. Again, my question is why not picket at the other two locations as well? Do they not all equally share the blame?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

An email to faculty from Thornton pretty much told them he didn't do enough to get it on the agenda. He was either falling on the sword bc someone else screwed up or admitting he didn't do enough. If they're taking him at face value, picketing a school committee meeting is the place to start. If additional information comes out that it was the city council's fault, then I'll agree with you. There's too much finger pointing and not enough people taking ownership to tell.

Friday, December 29, 2017