Chariho School Parents’ Forum

January 10, 2008

back online

Filed under: Budget,contract negotiations,Unions — Editor @ 4:09 pm

My apologies for the extended absence. 

 Much to catch up on –

1) the support personnel contract has been passed.  Not much changed – got 15% copays across the board but that only had an impact on less than half of the employees – it was a slightly (1%) give away to the others.  For this we gave them an increase in longevity (went from $2 to $2.25 and $2.50 depending on seniority) and, of course, the normal raises they always get.  3.5% each year plus steps or longevity.  Steps for support personnel are slightly less than teachers.  Teachers average 10.6%, I think support personnel is about 9.8%.  Still a pretty good raise in this economy – especially since its only based on seniority and nothing to do with performance.  How many of you got a 9% raise and copay under 20%?   

We also gave a big raise to Fiscal Clerks and Secretaries – the value depends on the year but as an example, a Fiscal Clerk in his/her fourth year of employment during the third year of this contract will receive a 24% raise.  And, again, solely based on seniority – not performance. 

There are a few other give-and-takes but that’s the bulk of it.  Same raises and same low copays.  I’ll break it down when I get a copy of the contract I can post (in digital format) – Superintendent Ricci hasn’t sent it to me yet – said he “prefers” I ask the board but I have not been able to make it to too many meetings lately. Besides, I wouldn’t think the access to public information was a board decision but we will see.  I promise not to fall for the “move to question” trick again!

2) budget season – yippee!  What to remember about the budget is that (and this is statewide) 85-95% of the budget is consumed by labor costs.  Chariho didn’t do anything substantial in the contract so the only other way to cut spending is to cut positions.  Bob Petit proposed a couple of options but they all got shot down. 

We have 4.1M in surplus (yes, this is twice as much as last year and 4 times as much as some previous years – why?  not sure…  but Giancarlo did point out that if we include the surplus in the budget – we can ask for more money from the towns  because 5% of $52M is more than 5% of $48M).   $1.5M is being used for capital improvements – someone tried to increase that amount but it was rejected. 

A constituent suggested that we give the money back to the towns and let them use it for their own buildings as they see fit.  This is interesting and could help build rapport between Chariho and the towns.   

 3) and speaking of contacts – the NEA has said they will move forward with the complaint against me– another yippee!  Can’t wait to see what they say I did wrong.   Superintendent Ricci asked me to identify it – but I can’t since I don’t think I did anything wrong.  He asked me to guess so the attorney could look into it.  I explained to him (something the attorney should have done) that it is the duty of the NEA to tell us what the complaint is based on.  You will know when I know…

Finally, I saw a post on this site that deserves to be highlighted.  It’s a good compilation of data – from “Budget Cruncher”

My number one question is why teachers aide salaries increase almost $311,000?!? Aren’t aides monitors? How much do they earn for monitoring students? This is just the salary increase for aides. Total salaries proposed for aides is $885,360! Add to this nearly $800,000 for teacher assistants. None of this counts sick days, healthcare, retirement, etc. Vo-tec is only spending $8,667 for aides this year. They spent nothing $0 for aides before this year. Why does the rest of the school need so many aides but Vo-tech doesn’t need aides?

Trying to make heads or tails sense of the budget can be difficult. Special Ed students must be in decline because Spec. Ed teacher salaries declined $191,700 (19%) and teacher assistant salaries for Spec. Ed declined $175,313 (18%).

The superintendent said that Spec. Ed teacher assistants were shifted to teachers aides, but this doesn’t seem right.

First, Spec. Ed teacher salaries went down and less teachers means less assistants. Why shift teachers assistants to aides if there is declining needs?

Second, Spec. Ed teachers assistants are specialized and certified. They should earn more than teachers aides who monitor classrooms, study halls, recess, bus loading, etc. These are low skill, low paying functions – at least they should be low paying.

Third, teachers aides (not assistants) salaries increase $310,733. Assistants only decrease $175,313 and the decrease is due to student decrease, not job shifting. The assistants were all at the main campus, but that aides also increase at all the elementary schools. Something is fishy here.

I went through the budget and ask that someone in power consider the info. There lots of money to be saved!

Unnecessary Positions?

Middle School House Leader – $32,482

Deans of Students – $325,798

Middle School Guidance Counselors – $284,368 Social Workers – $296,226

Unreasonable Increases?

High School Teachers Aides – $35,872 – 78% increase Middle School Teachers Aides – $140,639 – 116% increase Elementary School Teachers Aides – $134,222 – 49% increase Charter School Tuition – $112,114 – 24% increase Middle School Clerk – $25,955 – 25% increase Richmond Secretary – $6,120 – 19% increase Teachers Retirement – $511,288 – 17% increase Maintenance Salaries – $35,779 – 17% increase Custodial Salaries High School – $28,869 – 9% increase Custodial Salaries Middle School – $30,749 – 11% increase Middle School Librarian Salaries – $43,860 – 33% increase Professional Development Textbooks – $73,385 – 77% increase

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4 Comments »

  1. Hi All – Welcome Back Bill!
    Good information. Because I was unable to get recognized at the budget meeting I ended up emailing superintendent Ricci with a question about teacher assistants. Barbara Capalbo was told that teacher assistants salary was decreased and teacher aide salaries were increased because teacher assistants were actually doing work for mainstream students. I asked the superintendent what functions the teacher assistants were performing for the mainstream students. The superintendent graciously responded saying that teacher assistants monitor lunch rooms, playgrounds, etc. He said that these are not special education functions. He asked staff to distinguish between time spent with disabled students and time spent with general responsibilities. This is the reason for the adjustment.

    I also asked if we really need teacher assistants helping teachers with the mainstream students. He didn’t address this question but I was glad he replied with some information.

    At the time of my questions I did not know about the decline in special education teachers salaries. It does look like the special education students are less since we need less teachers. I agree that it makes sense that we would need less assistants when we have less teachers. Is there a difference between aides and assistants or is it just a different way of describing the same job? If assistants are more trained and specialized then I wonder why we would have higher paid assistants monitoring students from the mainstream? It is also interesting that teachers aides for vo-tec didn’t exist until this year. Vo-tec students are mainstream students and they don’t seem to need any aides so why do the other mainstream students need aides?

    I only got to look at the budget at the meeting but now I do see where salaries for teachers aides are increasing much higher. I don’t know why this is happening but maybe it is a place where we can save a lot of money? The only aides we had when I was in school was in the playground during elementary school. I don’t remember any aides in junior high or high school.

    Maybe Bill and Bob Petit can ask more questions about aides and assistants to see if we really need to spend so much money?

    Comment by Jim L. — January 10, 2008 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

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    Comment by kamdou — January 13, 2008 @ 3:16 pm | Reply

  3. HELP! I feel like the old lady who says “I’ve fallen and can’t get up”! I can’t get through the “New and Improved” CHARIHO ACT. What the blazes are they doing? My understanding was that the attorney (we are paying, I am sure), first completly messed the whole darn thing up, and now has “Clarified” the Act? Clarified? My head is spinning! Can’t we just put in the amendments and leave the rest alone?

    Has anyone else gone over this thing????

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — January 14, 2008 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

  4. I looked at it. Without having access to the amendments which are being absorbed into the one document, it is difficult to say whether the intent has been changed or not. There should not be a vote in favor of a revised Chariho Act until it can be said with certainty that the revision does not change anything but only adds the amendments into one clear document.

    Maybe the school committee…or better yet, Mr. Felkner…can provide an Executive Summary recapping the amendments that were previously approved by voters and verifying that this Chariho Act changes nothing. Let’s keep in mind that this latest rendition should be nothing more than a simplification of the original Act with the subsequent amendments. There should be no other objective.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 15, 2008 @ 2:37 pm | Reply


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