December 11, 2007

Facilities During Improvement

Justin Katz

The school committee is looking for a temporary classroom because a school that's being phased out as new construction completes after this year is substandard. The idea is, as soon as possible, to spread the children out in (and out of) a building that is too small to accommodate them, for health and noise reasons.

Indeed, a grandfather of a student at the school got up and testified that his granddaughter is having to be tutored at home because she has a reaction to mold in the school. The teachers applauded his testimony.

Superintendent Rearick then explained that the school has been tested, and all of the relevant government organizations have looked at the building with no indication that there's a problem.

Now, I've no reason to disbelieve either party, and as a father, myself, I'm certainly concerned that children displaced as their school environments are massively improved will face harm during the transition.

But then one of the teachers who is always very vocal (apparently as a union member) stood up and expressed bewilderment that the district could come up with a few tens of thousands of dollars to pay for the portable classroom! That's simply unbelievable coming from a member of a group currently on work to rule seeking to squeeze every penny from the town.

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So, if I understand this correctly, the teacher was expressing bewilderment at the money that was available FOR THE CHILDREN in a "But but but if Janey gets a lollypop, I want a lollypop,too! Where's my lollypop?!" fashion?

Posted by: Greg at December 11, 2007 8:28 PM

No, it appeared to me that the parent was pointing out that the money in the bond is for the new schools and the construction and moving costs. It has nothing to do with the regular school budget.

Posted by: ally at December 11, 2007 8:33 PM

I think we may be talking about different moments: the same woman had earlier questioned whether money set aside for moving had actually been spent toward that end. (The stated and implied undertext was that the teachers didn't see a benefit from the money.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at December 11, 2007 8:49 PM

I believe that the grandparent was only concerned with ONE room in the old Ranger building. The whole school is not unsafe or too loud, it is one room in the basement next to the cafeteria. I was wondering why administration hasn't offered to move this child to another classroom, for health reasons.(maybe they have, I don't know) I think that the school committee has gone out of their way to be proactive in this situation. It astounds me that the teachers are surprised at how expensive a "pod" is. I guess they aren't aware of how expensive health care is either.

Posted by: Donna at December 11, 2007 8:56 PM

Coming from a reliable source I learned tonight that the money set aside for moving was used to move curriculum materials and furniture(aka "taxpayers' purchases"). Any personal items were moved at the teacher's expense. Makes sense to me - as a taxpayer I would not want to be responsible for any losses due to moving mishaps.

Posted by: Donna at December 11, 2007 9:05 PM

"currently on work to rule seeking to squeeze every penny from the town."

I wonder how many Tiverton teachers really want to be on work to rule. I wonder how many would prefer to sign on to Tiverton's offer and return fully to their students.

Posted by: Monique at December 12, 2007 5:52 PM

Judging from the crowd at last night's meeting, most Tiverton teachers appear to be OK with the work to rule. I would hope that if they weren't, they would be adult enough to speak up to other union members. I just read the story in tonight's Newport Daily News about the union picketing the school committee president's place of work. It scares the hell out of me to think that these people are with my children all day. Their tactics are more bullying than professional. I have lost ALL respect for these people.

Posted by: donna at December 12, 2007 6:21 PM

"about the union picketing the school committee president's place of work"


Members of most other professions must make the case -listing of accomplishments, etc. - every time s/he requests an increase in compensation. You'll notice that the unions offer no such justification for their demands.

How if we charted the Tiverton school budget for the last twenty years together with Tiverton student achievement? My guess is that, as with South Kingstown, there would be little or no correlation.

The Tiverton School Committee and the Town Council are doing the right thing. Someone has to stand up "for the chi-i-i-h-h-ldren".

Posted by: Monique at December 12, 2007 9:28 PM

... but I would still distinguish between the union and teachers. Unless literally 51% of the Tiverton teaching staff was at the meeting, the sentiment expressed there is not shared by all teachers in the town. The fiscal situation of the town and the state as well as abatement of respect for the teaching profession (Donna is only one of many to say so) brought about by the actions of the union will not have escaped the attention of a lot of teachers.

Posted by: Monique at December 12, 2007 9:43 PM

>>but I would still distinguish between the union and teachers. Unless literally 51% of the Tiverton teaching staff was at the meeting

Union organizers tell their "targets" (their term, not mine) things such as "you are the union" and "unions are democratic" and "unions give you a voice."

Well if this is true then the actions of the union - including Mr. Crowley - reflects the wishes of the majority of teachers.

Of course the assertions of the union organizers aren't true (it's a sales pitch). Nevertheless, if actions of Crowley/NEA don't reflect the will of the majority of the teachers, then they should speak out.

If they are afraid to speak out of a concern over "union discipline" (e.g., fines for disloyalty to the union) and/or retribution by union officials and union Kool-Aid coworkers - which may not be an unjustified fear - then they should start a move to decertify the union and go union-free.

If they won't speak out and/or seek to decertify, then it's fair for us to paint them all as Crowley Mini-Mes.

Posted by: Tom W at December 12, 2007 11:34 PM

In regards to the moving expenses, the money was not spent on the move. Supplies were not provided. No boxes, no tape, no time. Boxes were thrown into the back of pick-up trucks and hauled off to the schools. Taxpayers' books and supplies were packed into boxes from the cafeteria. So books that cost hundreds of dollars were packed into chicken nugget and pizza dough boxes! So, no the money was not spent on moving expenses.

Posted by: ally at December 13, 2007 9:50 PM
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