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Superintendent Blasts Cranston Teacher's Union over Stalled Contract Talks

The statement follows Friday's filing by the union of a claim of unfair labor practices with the state labor relation's board on behalf of teacher's assistants.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

Cranston Public Schools Superintendent Judith Lundsten today said she is disappointed with the Cranston Teachers' Alliance, the teacher's union, over "their approach to budget negotiations that have languished" since last year.

The statement follows Friday's filing by the union of a claim of unfair labor practices with the state labor relation's board on behalf of teacher's assistants.

“We greatly value our teachers and the service they provide, but at this juncture we are deeply disappointed in their approach to the negotiation process. Their initial approach of a 4% increase on both compensation and benefits is asking for money we simply don’t have,” Lundsten said. “Their latest action of filing a Unfair Labor Practice does nothing to move the ball forward. We are at the negotiating table already. Mediation continues and we will continue to negotiate in good faith with the funding we have at our disposal.”

Lundsten said the district is enjoying the positive side of the fair funding formula right now, getting $3.5 to $3.6 million extra in the first three years. Those increases will continue for the next four years, but by 2018, the transition period ends and "the district will probably only receive minor increases or possibly deceases based on changes in student demographics," Lundsten said.

“Even if Cranston Public Schools were to accept the union’s latest 3 percent proposal the cost to the district would be approximately $3.6 million each year over a three year period.  Again, the School District receives an additional $3.5 - $3.6 million from the Fair Funding Formula.  Therefore, their contract would not allow the district to have any excess resources available for other contractual and fixed cost increases,” said Cranston School Committee member Janice Ruggieri. “Additionally, the union proposal leaves no money for new educational programming like all day K.”

School officials pointed to a tentative agreement reached with the custodian's union in a deal that took four months to reach and said it's a sign of the district's ability to negotiate in good faith.

"Negotiations only took four months and we were able to reach a successful resolution without the mediation process,” Lundsten said.

Ruggieri said the district had operated in deficit for years and "it would be fiscally irresponsible of the School Committee to put itself back into a financial hole.

The district is facing some major financial initiatives in the coming years, including the replacement of the district's old bus fleet, safety improvements to the building and increased technology support. 

Additionally, the district is working to implementing all-day kindergarten in the "near future," Ruggieri said. "None of these requests were funded by the city council.  The School District has made a commitment to complete these initiatives within our own budget."

Bob June 18, 2014 at 09:28 AM
@cranston....you are spot on...spot on....everybody seems to forget how the school committee basically runs through millions and millions of taxpayer dollars for salaries, benefits. and whatever other waste...and it's never enough for them...most of them could not figure the way out of a paper bag with both ends cut out...
Cranston June 18, 2014 at 12:33 PM
Bob your one of the best guys in here. Top 3. Your comments are honest and you are a realist that this city is a dump. Schieldrop erases anything controversial written like a 1st amendment tyrant. Hes all scared of something. Runs the patch but hates free speech go figure. I've had at least 4 comments erased that had no foul language etc.
bruins011 June 18, 2014 at 01:38 PM
@bob @cranston do your homework. You can't lump the teachers in with the administrators. What teacher do you know makes $70-100k a year? Or do you know any teachers? How can you make the blanket statement that teachers are terrible? Do you go in their classrooms and watch them? Do you see the extra hours they put in before or after school to help kids because their parents can't be bothered and treat the school like its a daycare? Are you in the meetings with these parents when they blame the teacher because their kid is failing but the parents don't do anything at home to ensure their kids are doing their homework or studying? Do you go with these teachers to walmart to buy things like pens, paper, crayon, glue, etc. out of their own pockets? What other job makes you go out a buy your own TOILET paper? Are you with these teachers during the summer going to classes and curriculum meetings to stay current with academic progress. On another note, if you don't like Cranston, leave. Don't wussy out using "financial reasons" as an excuse. If you hate here so bad I'm sure you could put your small mind to it and find a way to get out of here.
Barr230 June 18, 2014 at 04:23 PM
How funny is it that Bob and Cranston have a love fest for each other? I have never read one positive comment from either of you. Cranston is a great city and as a life long resident I urge you both to leave. I will pay for the Uhaul trucks. People like you always like to complain about everything but you never give realistic ideas on how to fix the "problems". I would love to know what makes the 2 of you experts on everything. How much better would this world be if the two of you actually used your abundance of free time to solve the world's problems??
bruins011 June 18, 2014 at 05:36 PM
@barron230 those two obviously have nothing better or intelligent to do but sit around and bitch. If they don't like it here they should leave and then their mothers can get basements back.

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