The Warwick Teachers Union and the Warwick School Committee have reached a one-year contract through the end of August 2024 giving teachers in all steps a 1.25% pay increase. Starting teacher …
The Warwick Teachers Union and the Warwick School Committee have reached a one-year contract through the end of August 2024 giving teachers in all steps a 1.25% pay increase. Starting teacher pay is $49,823 and a tenth step teacher will make $91,895.
Fringe benefits, including longevity increments and payments for tasks beyond classroom teaching were increased by 3%.
Karen Bachus, School Committee member, said negotiations involved a lot of back-and-forth discussions in order to reach the 1.25% raise.
“We don’t have any money,” she added, explaining that every 1% raise roughly costs the district an additional $1 million.
According to the fiscal note prepared by the district additional costs of the agreement total $1,296,981.35. However, as Bachus explained, those added costs are offset by a $266,000 increase in healthcare copayments resulting from the higher salaries and policy changes in sick pay for a $42,000 saving to reduce the overall added cost to $988,215.50.
David Testa, Chairman of the School Committee, said the district would allocate $750,000 in additional state aid to pay for three quarters of the costs. The other $250,000, he said, “is something to figure out” and will either come from the city or be “wrung out of the existing budget.”
Darlene Netcoh, WTU president, said that the 1.25% raise is minor compared to other years and city contracts.
“It’s minimal,” she added. “It’s nothing.” Step 1 teachers will make $49,823.
Still, she explained, it was enough for the teachers to agree to start the year with a contract. She recalled that in years past when they were not able to reach an agreement, the teachers did not start the school year with a raise.
Netcoh said she sent emails and letters to the committee to start negotiations in December. She said the administration did not agree to meet until June 15. “They did not feel the same urgency that I did,” she added.
According to Netcoh, the expedited timeline to reach an agreement before the school year began impacted the negotiations. “It was clear that we would not be able to work our way through those documents to negotiate a successor agreement,” she said. The committee and the union met repeatedly in late June and early July, sometimes multiple times a week to reach a consensus.
Netcoh noted that the 2023-24 agreement is the result of 50 years of negotiations between the union and the school committee. “It’s the product of give and take,” she added.
In this most recent contract, there was some change in the language, but according to Netcoh, it was nothing major.
Netcoh said the parties have already started negotiations for the next contract, which will either be a two or three year agreement. Currently, she’s leaning towards a three year contract. .