Layoffs possible for 31 teachers

By Tessa Roy
Posted 5/11/17

By TESSA ROY A total of 31 teachers were laid off at the School Committee meeting Tuesday night, but the administration says they could be recalled to their jobs depending on approval of the school budget. Superintendent Philip Thornton released a

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Layoffs possible for 31 teachers

Posted

A total of 31 teachers were laid off at the School Committee meeting Tuesday night, but the administration says they could be recalled to their jobs depending on approval of the school budget.

Superintendent Philip Thornton released a statement on the layoffs Wednesday morning, saying schools are required due to statutory regulations to notify certified teachers of potential layoffs on or before June 1 of each year and noted that the procedure is part of an annual process related to the approval of a school budget for the coming fiscal year.

“Following this annual procedure, the Warwick School Committee laid off 31 teachers at Tuesday’s School Committee meeting. Once a budget is approved by the City Council, we will have an official approved budget from which to work with,” he said. “At that time, we will know our funding levels for the 2017-2018 school year and make the appropriate staffing decisions.”

Thornton and Human Resources Director Katherine Duncanson explained in a phone call Wednesday that the layoffs are contingent upon the budget but also retirements or resignations. The two said they could begin recalling teachers as soon as they know the level of funding they have available.

Thornton’s statement also noted “since the Warwick School Department has been level funded or reduced in funding in recent years, we have to be fiscally responsible and plan for that possibility again.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Warwick Teachers Union President Darlene Netcoh and Warwick Community Outreach Educational Committee Co-Chair Nathan Cornell questioned why teachers rather than administrators were laid off.

“In consolidation, it’s only logical that if you consolidate teachers, you would also consolidate administrators,” Cornell reasoned. “Meanwhile, we’ve seen exactly the opposite these last few years. So one way to save money would [be] to consolidate some administrators, plus they make more.”

Netcoh said the 31 layoffs would eliminate reading specialists and all of elementary guidance.

“It’s time to up the programs in reading, not lower them…Stop using teachers as pawns. Use your administrators as pawns,” she said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Toll Gate English teacher Therese Bozigian said this was her third consecutive layoff from Warwick Public Schools and second under the current administration. She criticized the school department’s “rationale” of “budget uncertainty” as a reason for the layoffs. She described how “despite budget uncertainties,” her classroom has been visited by the head of technology to identify a spot for a new promethean board as well as by co-teaching consultants who observed her and her co-teacher’s academic strategies.

“Despite the current budget uncertainties, it seems that the only component that the school department is not able to afford in the classroom where I teach is me, the classroom teacher,” she said.

As for why administrators were not laid off, Thornton said in Wednesday’s call that a consultant did a reorganization of the district administration structure last year, which the School Committee voted on, and that he believes the department is “properly staffed” at the administration level. He noted that many of those jobs remain regardless of fluctuation in enrollment, such as the federal grant writer.

The School Committee approved a budget of $167 million last month. It requests an additional $4.8 million from the city, a 4 percent increase from last year. The budget request will be heard before the City Council on May 26 at 5 p.m.

In other business, Building and Grounds Director Steven Gothberg said mold testing at Warwick Vets would be conducted this Saturday morning. In addition, the state Department of Education’s review of Warwick’s special education program is expected for release shortly.

Comments

4 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
ThatGuyInRI

Not much to see here.

This is standard operating procedure in nearly all school systems.

Without a set budget the S.C. has to assume the worst and plan (layoffs) accordingly. When the worst doesn't happen most if not all get recalled. WHY this system works this way is another story entirely.

Friday, May 12, 2017
richardcorrente

Dear GuyInRI,

I don't understand it either. Why can't we have stability in our School Department budget? We could if we had accountability BEFORE the city gives them $160,000,000 or more. Last year the School Committee laid off 64 teachers in one shot. They then went on to hire about the same number of School Committee staff. I predict they will follow the same procedure now, replacing 31 teachers with 31 new SC staff-members. They want their staff to increase at the same rate as they are decreasing the number of teachers. When I campaigned for mayor, I promised that I would work 8 hours a day, 7 days a week until the teachers had a new contract. I also campaigned that I would ask for an audit from an outside independent source "before we gave the School Committee another dime!" I feel that this is the biggest issue facing Warwick and Mayor Avedisian has spent more hours on vacation than he has on this all important crisis. Our student population has crashed from 17,000 to well under 9,000. This system isn't working and the taxpayers have spent OVER A BILLION DOLLARS SINCE 2009! You know what else isn't working? The present mayors' response to it. Both have got to change and 2018 is around the corner.

Happy Summer ThatGuyInRI.

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, May 12, 2017
Scal1024

More propaganda, lies and bs from the failed candidate for mayor. For years Rick, you've run around spouting off nonsense about the budget, taxes and schools. 3 things you don't have a clue about. You recite the same 3 or 4 talking points because you are literally clueless when it comes to how to help this city.

All you do is rip the school committee while praising the teachers as if teachers share no blame in this problem. The rest of the city took pay freezes while the teachers were getting raises in pay. You won't say that though because it doesn't fit with your pathetic pandering.

-Nobody wants a mayor who talks about "cutting spending", when you can't name a single line item you would cut.

-Nobody wants a mayor who talks about "cutting taxes" while you never seem to pay your own taxes.

You lost in embarrassing fashion. It wasn't because of PAC money, it wasn't because of campaign money. Its because people see through the pandering and lies.

You comment on high school honor roll stories about your own selfish campaign ambitions. Does it get any more pathetic than that? Even parents have told you to stop, but you are too delusional.

You ran for 2+ years, you loaned your campaign over $30,000, you had the Dem. party endorse you and signs plastered all over the city. No excuses, you lost! Now stop with the lies because if you haven't noticed I along with many others will be right here to call you out each and every time.

Go away Rick, you aren't the taxpayers mayor, you aren't even the taxpayers candidate. You are the candidate the taxpayers never asked for and certainly never wanted.

Saturday, May 13, 2017
Thecaptain

Scal,

One comment I would like to share with you. Although the 2013-15 municipal contracts stipulated "pay freezes", I obtained the 3 year salary break down of DPW and WFD and I can assure you that every persons salary was increased through the use of overtime and "step increases". Particularly disturbing was the massive amount of overtime by the fire department during a time when they were fully staffed. In fact, part of my records request was for W2 forms from 3 random employees on the WFD which indicated that during the "pay freeze" period, the 3 men had an increase in wages of $283,900 between the 3.

Although the "pay freeze" topic was used by the mayor for political optics, it was circumvented in a number of very clever ways. I would be more than willing to share these documents with you at any time.

Sunday, May 14, 2017