September 8, 2005

Cranston Teachers’ contract passes, 5-1

Carroll Andrew Morse

Combining today’s Projo story with the current list of members of the Cranston school committee, the following vote on the city of Cranston’s teachers’ contract can be inferred…

Voting For: Deborah C. Greifer (Ward 2), Andrea Iannazzi (Ward 6), Anthony J. Lupino (Ward 4), M. Gordon Palumbo (Citywide), Michael A. Traficante (Ward 5)

Voting Against: Steven A. Stycos (Ward 1)

Not Present: Paul H. Archetto (Ward 3)

According to the Projo, the contract will require $1.8 million in budget cuts this year...

According to figures released last night, the contract this year will cost nearly $1.8 million more than is allotted in the budget, but board members said they will find a way to squeeze that figure from their $115-million budget and vowed they will not overspend.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I was there and watched with sorrow and fear as the school committee ratified this teacher's contract. There is no cost analysis for this contract and it was ratified over pleas for a postponement of the vote by two members of the school committee, the Mayor, and many regular citizens.

Even though I do not agree with the Mayor on many issues, I believe he is justified in his outrage at the school department and school committee regarding this contract. Not because of the provisions of the contract per se, but because they failed to provide cost analysis for this expenditure which amounts to one of the largest line items (the largest, perhaps?) for the city's budget.

The result of this on the personal level is that parents like me become resentful and distrustful. Class sizes for elementary grades are rising all over the city, roofs are leaking, books and technology are outdated, and yet the school committee expects us to be comfortable with salary increases for teachers and administrators that are beyond the means of their budget. Then they send us laundry lists of things that the schools claim they are so underfunded that we as parents must bring in, all sorts of regular school supplies such as pencils, crayons, paper, etc. as well as toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues. What do they think we are, complete fools? Apparently.

It was clear from watching the "discussion" of the school committee that although former Mayor Traficante is not chair of the school committee, he was the driving force behind much of this contract. Illustration: Traf to Joe Balducci, in some sort of a reply to many public comments that we do not have numbers to base this contract on: "Joe, wasn't I on the phone to ya everyday Joe gettin' numbers? Wasn't I?" In Joe's silent nodding reply was the tone of, "Yes, boss, you're right, boss, anything you say, boss."

If this was true, if Former Mayor Traficante was on the phone every day going over numbers for how this contract is going to work for the next three years, why can't we see them? Why couldn't the rest of the school committee see them, as some committee members have admitted that they do not know how they will fund next year's 4.5% salary hike, and Steve Stycos stated clearly that he had requested financial cost analysis many times over the course of negotiations and never got what he was asking for. Why weren't these numbers presented to the Mayor, or to the city council, to the people who will be responsible for funding this multimillion dollar increase over the next three years?

As I said from the beginning of posting here on this issue, something has to be done to change this system. There is a HUGE gap in accountability between the school committee and the city administration.

Also, as a final comment, I would like to suggest that the Mayor needs a more oblique approach for dealing with these issues. I honestly think the last Mayor, a democrat, got a better contract out of the teachers by taking the approach of appearing to be overwhelmed by financial problems and in need of their help. The cost of the contract negotiated under O'Leary, with a 2 year salary freeze in exchange for paying teacher's health insurance 12% copay for three years plus one year of a raise, was probably less than the cost of the three pay raises in this contract, which add up cumulatively to more than an 11% increase, plus the new 11th salary step at another 4.5% increase, offset by only a 5% health insurance copay. Mayor Laffey's approach has been to assert that he is the authority figure for the city and he is going to control these contracts. I'm sorry to say I think this approach backfired, and as a result he ended up in a battle of wills with former Mayor Traficante where the old king was deadset on proving to the new king that he still has the knack.

Posted by: averagejane at September 9, 2005 7:36 AM