— Chariho —

September 5, 2012

Chariho Starts Down the Path Blazed by East Providence

Monique Chartier

In early 2009, finding itself at the end of its fiscal and negotiating rope, the East Providence School Committee "unilaterally" set the new terms of employment for teachers.

In due course, their decision was upheld by Superior Court.

Now the Chariho School Committee finds itself in a similar position with the teacher contract that expired five days ago. So, even as it prepared to enter into mediation with the NEA RI following upon eight months of negotiations, the Chariho School Committee

decided that until a new collective agreement has been signed, salary increases as well as other provisions in the expired contract -- bonuses for longevity and for teachers with advanced degrees, for example -- will be suspended.

"Other provisions" including specifically the step increases. Chariho teachers are not taking this sitting down.

The National Education Association-Chariho has filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Labor Board, accusing the Chariho School Committee of breaking the law in not honoring teachers’ scheduled salary increases. NEA-Chariho says it will also file a complaint with the Rhode Island Department of Education.

The old contract, which expired Aug. 31, contains a salary schedule of 12 “steps” or levels of pay. Salaries for 2012 for the district’s 342 teachers ranged from $38,564 at step one to $75,600 for teachers at the highest level, step 12.

On Aug. 21, after eight months of bargaining, the school committee decided that until a new collective agreement has been signed, salary increases as well as other provisions in the expired contract -- bonuses for longevity and for teachers with advanced degrees, for example -- will be suspended.

Chariho correctly points out that there is no contract in effect.

“That contract expired on Aug. 31, so there is no contract,” countered Chariho Superintendent Barry Ricci, who is also a member of the district’s negotiating team. “The school committee decided that everyone was going to freeze in place salary-wise, until the contract was settled.”

April 7, 2009

Chariho District Votes Today

Carroll Andrew Morse

Charlestown, Richmond and Hopkinton are holding a referendum today on the school budget for Chariho District. From Andrew Martin of the Chariho Times

Voters will have the final say all-day April 7 on the proposed $53.3 million Chariho Regional School District budget for fiscal year 2009-10.

The budget represents a small increase over the current fiscal year, which stands at $53.1 million. But, after revenue, the member towns’ contribution actually sees a decrease for the upcoming fiscal year.

The current 2008-09 fiscal year’s total member towns’ contribution is $49.5 million. This coming year’s budget proposal calls for $49.3 million – a decrease of $210,798.

A few sources familiar with the situation have told me that they expect the vote to be close.

January 3, 2009

Chariho Fiefdom Temporarily Suspended

Justin Katz

Apparently powerful players on local school committees can't just subvert the will of voters without providing the public any warning that they intend to do so:

Superior Court Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson has ordered the Chariho Regional School Committee to reinstate William Felkner until it properly votes on whether to allow him to serve on the school board while seated as a member of the Hopkinton Town Council.

Thompson enjoined the school board from enforcing its Nov. 18 decision, based on a finding by Chariho Solicitor Jon M. Anderson, that when Felkner took the oath of office as a Town Council member the evening before, he in effect gave up his seat on the School Committee.

Although the Nov. 18 school board meeting was properly advertised, there was no public notice that the board was considering a vote on whether Felkner could continue to serve.

Assuming that public light doesn't cause Chariho School District lawyer Jon Anderson — and whoever's prodding him — to recede into their hovels to scheme for another day, manipulating the system by other means, it would behoove Rhode Islanders interested in fair dealings and sane reforms to attend any duly advertised meeting at which the dabblers in conspiracy may attempt, again, to deny voters' right to elect whom they like for local offices.


As a side note: Doesn't the Providence Journal have anybody on staff who could provide some sense of where the relevant law actually stands when it comes to simultaneously holding the two particular offices to which Bill has been elected? I'd gladly do the research, if I had time, but it seems to me that such contributions to news stories represent an area in which a state-level newspaper would be well positioned to provide an added value worth paying for.