The Warwick Teachers' Union and the Warwick School Committee agreed to a tentative agreement for a new contract in the wee hours of Thursday morning, Oct. 19.
"The parties worked very diligently and productively last evening and were focused on bringing all of their disputes to closure," said state-appointed mediator Vincent Ragosta. "I made several recommendations for compromise and they were embraced. And at approximately 12:30 [a.m.] we inked a document that just said very generally what the points were...beyond that we need to do more documentation but it's quite clear that we have an agreement."
The mediation session began on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m., meaning the parties spent over five hours in deliberations before the tentative agreement was reached. The exact details of the agreement are not being disclosed at this time.
As a result of the agreement, the school committee's early morning meeting, scheduled for 7:15 a.m. on Thursday, was cancelled. The topic of the meeting was to discuss how to carry out the temporary restraining order issued by Associate Justice Susan McGuirl on Tuesday. Such action, should the contract be finalized, will not be unnecessary.
The tentative agreement is the first step towards an end to the more than two years of controversy and discord that has been ongoing since the teachers' last collective bargaining agreement expired in August of 2015.
Rhode Island Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Ken Wagner released the following statement on Thursday morning:
“We are pleased that the Warwick School Committee and Warwick Teachers Union have come together for the good of their students and the community at large, reaching a tentative agreement that we hope will bring to an end what has been a difficult chapter for Warwick schools. We are eager to see the agreement finalized as quickly as possible so that all parties can continue to do what they do best – prepare Warwick students for their futures.”