The School Committee and the teachers union, the East Greenwich Education Association (EGEA), both voted to approve a three-year labor contract that goes into effect when the school year begins.
In a closed session Tuesday morning, the School Committee voted unanimously 5-0 to approve the contract, and EGEA ratified the contract later that day. Committee member Nicole Bucka recused herself from the vote (her husband is in the union)*, and Kevin Murphy was away due to traveling.
This is the first time in at least 20 years for a teacher’s contract to get approved by the School Committee before the start of the school year, according to a joint statement from School Committee Anne Musella and Supt. Brian Ricca Wednesday (find the statement here: EGEA Contract Press Release.)
The new contract, which covers the next three years, will provide “top-step teachers” with salary increases for each of those three years. Top-step teachers are those who have been teaching for at least 10 years, with each step indicating one year of teaching.
“By Rhode Island law, there must be a delineation in the form of steps, which is essentially like a tenure,” Musella said. “Each year of service, a teacher will advance a step. A brand new teacher will enter at Step 1.”
Teachers get salary increases at each step, but those increases stop at the 10th step, which is referred to as the top step. More than 75 percent of EG teachers fall into this category, and according to the contract, they will get a raise of 1.5 percent in the contract’s first year, 1.75 percent in the second year, and 2.25 percent in the third year.
Musella said the percentages are cumulative, which means the second year’s raise would account for 1.75 percent of the first year’s full salary including the 1.5 percent raise.
For the lower-step teachers (those who have been teaching for fewer than 10 years), there will be stipends of 1.5 percent for the first year of the contract, 1.5 percent for the second year, and 0.75 percent for the third year.
The contract’s cumulative fiscal impact comes out to $4.4 million, which represents how much the contract will cost the district over the three years. That includes the salary increases and stipends for top-step and lower-step teachers, and it also includes other payments, such as for those who participate in committee work and those that work as team leaders in elementary schools, Musella said.
A portion of the contract also covers a revised “Appendix B” section of the contract, which involves modified stipends for coaches and advisors. The committee chose to revise that section of the contract because it likely hasn’t been looked at or edited in several years.
“The reason we wanted to include [Appendix B] in the press release is because it hasn’t been updated in quite some time,” Musella said.
EG News reached out to EGEA for a comment but one was not forthcoming.
The contract and a fiscal impact statement will be posted to the district’s website next week.
* In an email, Nicole Bucka said: “While the Rhode Island Ethics Commission ruled that I could vote on the contract once it was fully negotiated and presented as a whole, I chose not to: As I have with every aspect of the contract negotiation process, I abstained from the vote to ensure the contract’s impartiality would not be questioned. I extend a sincere congratulations to my fellow school committee members, our superintendent, and our teacher’s union.”
Aiza Shaikh, a sophomore at the University of Connecticut and Class of 2021 EGHS alum, has been an EG resident since 2008. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and eating coffee ice cream.