Overturning its decision , the North Kingstown School Committee re-voted on the matter Tuesday night – freezing salaries for remaining Educational Support Professionals (ESP) employees.
ESP’s contract dominated discussion on both Monday and Tuesday nights as the committee denied an arbitrators contract award. Instead, the committee made unilateral changes to ESP staff (including the elimination of life insurance, increased health insurance cost share, reduction of sick and personal days, etc.) and terminated the school department’s custodial staff in anticipation of outsourcing in an .
After returning from a mid-meeting executive session, John Boscardin – who had voted in support of Larry Ceresi’s motion to grant a one-percent raise – asked for the committee to reconsider Superintendent Phil Auger’s recommendation to freeze salaries for the group.
“That raise takes dollars away from programs that directly impact students’ opportunities for success,” said Boscardin.
Boscardin’s motion for a salary freeze passed 5-2 (with Ceresi and Bill Mudge opposing). Going into the night, the committee was tasked with closing a $211,000 gap in order to balance fiscal 2012 budget before it ended on June 30. Boscardin’s motion brought that figure down by nearly $68,000 and allowed the committee to avoid laying off a maintenance worker. According to the new director of administrative service, Mary King, the department’s maintenance crew has seen two retirements in the past year. Neither position has been filled.
To make up the rest of the budget gap, the committee voted to make other cuts and changes – including the reduction of food preparation at the district’s two middle school. Instead, food will be prepared at the high school and distributed to the middle schools.
The committee also held off on approving a contract with GCA to outsource its custodial service. According to school attorney Mary Ann Carroll, more details regarding the contract needed to be established between the two parties. The committee voted to authorize Chair Kimberly Page and Vice Chair Richard Welch to sign the finalized contract during its recess. (The committee is not scheduled to meet again until Aug. 14.)