2014-04-17 / Front Page

Union Urges Panel to Avoid Pay Cuts

By Theresa Hillman

Money should not be saved on the backs of teachers, Lisa Wood, president of the National Education Association – Middletown, the union representing the town’s teachers, told the Middletown School Committee at its April 10 meeting.

Wood, an eighth grade math teacher at Gaudet Middle School, said she was addressing comments made recently in a letter written by committee member William O’Connell.

She said that because recent contract concessions have resulted in a loss of pay for teachers, O’Connell’s letter asking them to earn less than what they did last year and the year before was disheartening and offensive.

O’Connell praised teachers but declared, “We are in unhealthy economic times. There’s a crisis here. Most people are just thankful for a job.”

The School Committee voted to oppose General Assembly legislation mandating that school districts abide by expired teacher’s contracts prior to a new negotiated settlement. The legality of such between-contract practices is also being tested in court. The challenge involves the East Providence School Committee's decision to impose new working conditions after expiration of their teachers' contract.

In other business, Assistant Superintendent Linda Savastano announced that the NECAP (New England Common Assessment Program) analysis is on the “Quick Links” section of their website: mpsri.net.

In other curriculum news, Project Lead the Way’s “Pathway to Engineering” course work begins in the fall. She said that necessary AUTOCAD software and recent NASCAR and Robotics work has preceded this math, science, and technology program.

Supt. Rosemarie Kraeger reported progress in hiring a schoolbased coordinator for both Middletown and Newport and in the commitment to Newport to share Middletown’s facilities director. “We’d like to get started on that and achieve a cost savings,” she said.

Facilities Director Ed Collins said the town has saved money through a arrangement with Portsmouth on shared special education bus trips. “We are trying to get some efficiencies that way,” he said. Superintendent Kraeger announced a potential relocation of the Aquidneck Pre-K program to a Kennedy School Early Childhood Center which would house classes from the Regional Special Education Program, the Newport Schools, Head Start and possibly Newport County Mental Health. Kraeger said that with this move they would be able to expand and generate revenue.”

The next meeting of the Middletown School Committee will be held on May 15 at 7 p.m. at the Oliphant Administration building. There will be a joint meeting at Town Hall on April 28 at 6 p.m. to discuss the budget and the facilities plan with the Town Council.

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