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Committee Adopts New ESP Contract

After two years of negotiations, the school district's support professionals have a contract.

Two years of negotiations came to a close Tuesday night as the North Kingstown School Committee unanimously approved a contract for the school district’s support staff. The new three-year contract covers July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2015 and is estimated to save the school department $1.7 million during that time.

"It was the most difficult this we've had to do in my time on the school committee," said Committee Chair Kimberly Page on the contract.

Check below for the fiscal impact statement regarding the contract.

The school committee’s negotiations sub-committee finished the contract after a seven-hour session on Thursday. According to Superintendent Phil Auger, the new contract does not include any custodian-related items. Currently, the school department is involved in litigation with North Kingstown Education Support Professionals union – which represents the district's teaching assistants, cafeteria workers, bus workers, clerks, custodians, etc. – over the custodial issue after the School Committee voted to privatize the school district’s custodial staff.

“Once we were able to separate those two items, there was a lot we found we could agree on,” said Auger.

The biggest savings from the new contract derive from the increase of health insurance co-shares. Employees formerly paid a 4 percent co-share, which now goes up to 15 percent. Annually, this will save the school department about $250,000 per year – adding up to $762,000 for the three years.

The contract also moves nine full-time positions to 18 part-time positions, saving $551,688 over the three years. Health coverage for part-time employees (i.e. those working fewer than 30 hours per week) has also been eliminated, resulting in savings of $354,312.

ESP employees will receive pay increases with the contract – 0 percent in the first year, 1 percent in the second year and 0.75 percent the third year – costing the school department $121,000 over three years. ESP also will receive an increase for tuition reimbursements (now $600 per course, up from $400), increase in professional development stipends (costing $2,000 per year) and an increase in severance pay (now four weeks, up from two weeks).

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Auger praised Nancy Ferencko and Sandy Blankenship of ESP for their leadership during the negotiating process. Contract negotiations began nearly two years ago between school officials and the union.

With this new contract, the School Committee will not pursue outsourcing its food services program. For the past several years, the school department’s food services (the state’s only in-house cafeteria program) has run in the red by more than $100,000 each year. In November, . If the committee looks to readdress the issue, it will have to wait until the contract expires in 2015.

 

FY13 FY14 FY15 TOTAL Savings Increase health co-share to 15% $250,000 $254,000 $258,000 $762,000 9 full-time employees down to 18 part-time $175,000 $183,750 $192,938 $551,688 Elimination of health coverage for part-time employees $105,000 $117,600 $131,712 $354,312 Elimination of paid life insurance $34,000 $35,360 $36,774 $106,134 Adjustment of health insurance buyback rates $32,000 $32,000 $32,000 $96,000 School year reduced to 184 days -- $12,000 $12,000 $24,000 Added Costs Severance at retirement (estimated 3 retirees per year)
$3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $9,000 Increase in professional development cap (increase from $8,000 to $10,000) $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $6,000 Increase in tuition reimbursement (from $400 to $600 per course) $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $6,000 Increase in professional development stipends (from $200 to $350) $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $6,000
Crystal Ball December 14, 2012 at 03:34 PM
The School Committee and Superintendent deserve praise for negotiating this contract. We hear politicians talk about “holding the line on spending”; however, this SC has done it over the past several years. They made difficult decision such as outsource the janitorial services and took-on the union. The Town Council under the leadership of Dolan continues to increase their budget every year. I challenge the TC to keep to 0 percent budget for this upcoming year while NOT increase other fees (water bills, transfer station, car taxes & recreation fees).
Politics Sheriff of NK December 14, 2012 at 03:45 PM
MeanEric, thank you. When a poster starts a new account to expose what they think is the real identity of someone who clearly (like you) wishes to remain anonymous, thats an issue, as you have pointed out. Speak to the issues people.
Politics Sheriff of NK December 14, 2012 at 04:12 PM
EXACTLY. This SC has done a great job with the situation they have to work with. There are state and federal rules galore that wee MUST abide by, strong and specific requirements that we MUST do. Strong unions with their own rules and our contractual obligations to them, and a finite amount of money available to accomplish everything and more. No one is perfect, but I defy anyone not on the committee to work out all that better than these folks have, and in a bipartisan manner too.
NK_Voter December 14, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Excuse me? Please review the previous years TC and SC meetings. The SC has repeatedly asked for increases in the school budget for the last few years. The TC has, through audits and other methods, held the increases to the minimum, forcing the profligate SC to economize. Yes, the SC deserves praise for finally doing what should have been done years ago, but the TC deserves the real pat on the back.
Crystal Ball December 14, 2012 at 09:19 PM
NK_Voter, The TC has increased town revenue by increasing taxes, fees and imposing new taxes (Car tax). They did held the Schools to no increase; however, they spent more money on the town side. That's doesn't help taxpayers. I just hope they will hold the town to a 0% increase for just one year. Make the tough cuts on the town side as they required of the school committee .

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