No. Smithfield Town Council approves new three-year teacher contract

No. Smithfield Town Council approves new three-year teacher contract

NORTH SMITHFIELD – The town’s teachers returned to school last week with a new three-year contract amounting to a 1.75 percent salary increase for a majority of the local educators, along with a smaller increase starting next year for the remaining instructors.

The contract, which was formally approved by the Town Council on Aug. 27, days before the start of school, relies on a complicated multi-step system that will ultimately save money for the district, according to School Committee Chairman James Lombardi III. He described the lengthy negotiation process with the North Smithfield Teachers Association, which began in the spring, as “heated” but said all parties proceeded professionally and in good faith.

“We were able to come to the table with the deal pretty much at the last hour because at that point, the parties were far away, and we ended up coming to a negotiated deal that was good for the taxpayers,” he said.

The crux of the deal is a new 12th step added to the district’s previously 11-step salary system, with members of that 12th step receiving an average 1.75 percent increase each year. According to Lombardi, the increase will apply to about 102 of the district’s approximately 170 teachers and be awarded as a 1 percent increase on the first day of school and another 1 percent increase on day 90.

The salary for steps 1-11 will remain unchanged through the first year of the contract. In year two, however, step 1 will be eliminated, returning the district to an 11-step system and starting new teachers at a higher amount of $41,363. The remaining teachers will receive a 1 percent increase through years two and three of the contract.

According to Lombardi, adding and eliminating the extra step will contribute to an approximately $45,000 savings for the district.

“It’s complicated, because we wanted to try to do this at the least cost to the taxpayer,” he said.

While the salary increase was the main focus of negotiations, Lombardi said the new contract also includes some minor changes to health care benefits as well as a $200 stipend for teachers with advanced degrees.

“It’s basically substantially similar to this, except they were able in the last three years to find some additional savings on health care,” he said.

Changes in benefits include increasing the health co-share to 20 percent, a change Lombardi said will result in savings to the district. The new contract also eliminates an opt-out stipend previously available to teachers who were covered by the family plan of a spouse who also taught in the district.

“We felt that that was not fair to the taxpayer,” he said. “Just because we have two teachers and one can waive, we didn’t feel it was fair to them to take a stipend for that.”

The salary increase, he said, will fit within the 3 percent school budget increase approved by the Town Council in June without requiring any cuts from school programs or other areas in the budget. That budget increase, higher than the 2 percent originally recommended by the town Budget Committee, was approved only after several weeks of lobbying by teachers and members of the School Committee.

“One of the things on our side was we were prepared, under any circumstance, to not cut programs, so that’s what made this negotiation so difficult,” said Lombardi.

The new contract took effect last week and will expire at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

Comments

How come Chairman Lombardi doesn't tell us how much top step is now, he referenced everything else.

School Year 2018-2019
Payrolls 1-6 $79,847
Payrolls 7-26 $80,645
School Year 2019-2020:
Payrolls 1-6 $81,451
Payrolls 7-26 $82,266
School Year 2020-2021:
Payrolls 1-6 $83,089
Payrolls 7-26 $83,920
Link to school department website: http://www.northsmithfieldschools.com/departments.html

Why don't you take the logical step of emailing Mr. Lombardi and asking him directly? His email address is on the Town website. He has always been willing to talk and explain things to anyone when asked. He is very open. Valley Breeze always edits for content. Which is their right. Commenting about it here and raising unnecessary questions seems to me to be just pejorative at best.

It might be a good idea if you were to take the logical step by stop taking your comments to the press! Remember, we all have our rights to our own decisions.

You should stop throwing stones! Wasn’t it you, Stephen Vowels the same individual who attacked the EX Town Administrator in writing in the Valley Breeze for her use of the Town vehicle and the mileage while on vacation?
Sounds to me that would be considered as being a hypocrite to say the least! You really need to start practicing what you preach! Remember, it was you, Mr. Vowels who met with the Valley Breeze and publically criticized Paulette Hamilton for alleged wrong doings! And by the way, it was determined that after a police investigation was done, the EX Town Administrator was found to have done nothing wrong because all past Town Administrators have done the same thing!

It might be a good idea Mr. Vowels if you were to MYOB and let people speak their peace! Let’s face it, this is the only place that we can do it so that people will listen to us!

Mr.Vowels insists the valley breeze did not want to print top step salary.I was curious as to how much top step was because thats what the article was about.

Another bad teacher contract that increases cost and reduces teachers days present. We just keep increasing the cost and passing it on to the tax payers with no increase in quality and test scores. At some point people will move out of the town due to the high tax rate. The school committee doesn not understand the fact that it raises the base so future increases are more expensive. Also if you where to compare NS to other towns you would probably find NS teachers are some of the highest paid in the state. A small community can not afford to compete against the larger towns. We should teach economics and let the market dictate the salary and stop the longevity and every teacher is paid the same regardless of skill or quality.

I am not throwing stones. I am suggesting that you reach out to the very available Chairman Lombardi and ask him yourself. Or actually go to a School Committee meeting and ask to be heard and get your questions and concerns on record and answered. Being an internet coward and not putting your real name here makes it kind of difficult for you to be heard or taken seriously by anyone. Including an elected official. I am also not insisting that the Valley Breeze intentionally left anything out of the article. I am merely suggesting that it MAY have been edited out unintentionally. As far as the past with our ex Town Administrator goes. I researched on my own her abuse of the Town provided vehicle and stood before the Town Council by myself and laid out the facts. The fact that I shared it with the Valley Breeze is irrelevant, it was news and they wanted to know about it. And as far as a "Police Investigation" into that matter? To my knowledge, the Police were never involved in any such investigation. The Town Council took appropriate action against the former Town Administrator for her abuse of Privilege and put policies in place to ensure it never happened again. The Town Council determined that what she did was wrong. And really? Because others abused it in the past and prior Town Councils may not have done anything about it then means that it is simply ok for someone to do abuse a privilege with no accountability or sense of what is morally right? That is a pretty immature way of looking at things.