Teachers, School Committee Settle Contract

By switching to a health savings plan model, the district will save a total of $1.3 million.

Credit: NKSD
Credit: NKSD

This story was amended at 8:30 a.m., Jan. 16. 

The School Committee approved a new contract for North Kingstown teachers Tuesday night, after more than a year of negotiations and five months after the old contract expired.

The vote was 6-0. John Boscardin was absent.

“I feel like we got a lot achieved,” said School Committee Chairwoman Kim Page. “We went in with many many different things we were trying to negotiate. It was a very respectful process and that I really appreciate. We did get a good savings.… I appreciate the process, I appreciate the time.”

“We’re not thrilled, but we’re going to live with it,” said Kevin Dubois, head of the teachers union. Union members approved the contract in a vote Friday.

The contract provides wage increases of .5 percent in 2014, 1 percent in 2015, and 1.5 percent in 2016. It also reorganizes health care to a “health savings account” model and revises how sick days are calculated.

The changes in health care coverage give the district a savings of $1.3 million, with no savings the first year (the current year), and the whole of the savings over the second and third years.

The district savings over the contract is approximately $500,000, taking into account the salary increases.

“We all were kind of discussing it, on our own sides, and we said, ‘What can we do to stave off that additional cost to everybody?’” said Dubois, referring to potential tax penalties that kick in under the Affordable Care Act if premiums go too high.

“We saw that, depending on the model that you pick … you could get a savings off the premium that it would knock it back down several thousand dollars,” he said. “We thought it was to everybody’s benefit to try to do that. To try to keep the costs inhouse, in our own pockets and our own budget, rather than having it go to taxes on the federal level.”

"The teachers are still responsible for 20 percent co-share of the premium plus half of the deductible ($1,000 individual/$2,000 family)," said Finance Director Mary King, via email. "The 20 percent co-share will go down because the premiums are reduced by approximately 21 percent." 

An individual will pay approximately $265 less and a family would pay approximately $675 less, based on estimated premiums starting July 1.

"After the deductibles are met, the employee will incur no further costs on their healthcare in most instances," said King.

“We’re going to have a lot of sessions with our members and the administration to discuss how it all works,” he said. “I think it will be ok once people understand how it all works.”

Another change in the contract relates to the accumulation of sick day. Instead of having different types of sick days, now “a sick day is a sick day.” The new contract caps the number of sick days a teacher can acrue to 115 total days over the course of a career.

The other changes were in language, and many of them – such as about the teacher evaluations – had been worked out many months ago, Dubois said.

While the contract may not have been everything he’d wanted, Dubois said the administration had been good to work with.  

Several School Committeeman members praised both the union and the administration for their diligence.

Bob Jones praised the union for its professionalism in working without a contract.

“When parents found out the contract ran out last summer … the educational process went on without a beat,” he said. “Thanks for setting and showing that example of professionalism.”  

Proud Resident January 16, 2014 at 09:02 AM
I'd like to thank the teachers for their sacrafices, much like the police did, in this contract.
NK Parent January 16, 2014 at 09:35 AM
Maybe we should let the school committee take a stab at straightening things out with the firefighter's union? They can't do any worse than than the TC.
Concerned Resident January 16, 2014 at 09:45 AM
kudos to the teachers and police in understanding and working with leadership during these difficult times. maybe the ff should speak to the teachers and police to better understand how to work with leadership to get both a ff and tax payer friendly contract.
NKIndie January 16, 2014 at 01:19 PM
Very good job on both sides. Concerned Resident .. I didn't see anywhere in that contract where the School Committee insisted that the teachers work 14 hours more per week for no pay increase..
NKIndie January 16, 2014 at 01:27 PM
CR I totally AGREE with you.. The firefighters should work with the town just like the School and teachers. The total savings to the town is $1.3 million BEFORE RAISES which is about 2.2% of their budget. So if Fire budget is around $9mil then firefighters should give a about $198,000. I think they should be able to do that.... Without drastically changing platoons etc..
Jeff Crawford January 16, 2014 at 02:00 PM
Someone quick, enlighten me. This sounds like its a wash or loss, for the teachers, given the small raise and then the deductible payment for health care. I can see the savings for the Town by reducing the premiums for the individual or family health plan, however, the expenditure to put WIFI in all the schools is going to cost half of the savings..
Concerned Resident January 16, 2014 at 02:07 PM
nki, curious if you are aware if the teachers are paid to sleep on the job? so if......around.......should.......much uncertainty on your part but then again to be expected from a ff. congratulations on spinning a positive to a negative but then again to be expected from a ff.
Elizabeth McNamara (Editor) January 16, 2014 at 02:11 PM
Jeff Crawford, The wifi is being paid for by a grant from the state – still tax dollars, but not specifically out of the school district's coffers.
RS January 16, 2014 at 04:42 PM
Wow, CR has me confused..... You want 24 hour shifts but them again bring up being paid to sleep on the job. Which one do you want? an 8 hour shift or a 24 hour shift? Are you now saying you want a 24 hour shift and to stay awake for 24 hours and be expected to perform their tasks? Again, you may think otherwise, and you are welcome to think that way, but no one really "sleeps" like you do at home. The pay is for availability. Maybe you could come up with a plan for 3 8 hour shifts to cover the day that way everyone is away and moving all the time. Cudos to the teachers for settling a contract!!!!
NKIndie January 16, 2014 at 06:02 PM
There is no negative. Both parties came to an agreement congratulations to both of them. I am just pointing out numbers so all employees of the town are treated fairly. Your educated response of "they are paid to sleep" speak volumes of your intelligence. I really hope you are not on the council it may explain why the town and the firefighters are in the situation they are in.
wickchevy January 16, 2014 at 06:34 PM
Concerned's hatred towards Firefighters is concerning isn't it? its the only thing he/she will blog about for example. Plain and simple CR is upset that Firefighters shop at Daves, sit in recliners, sleep at work (why would anyone working 24-70 hrs need sleep anyway) CR job description fails to mention the daily chores and equipment maintenance and tests, drills and calls etc… One only has to look at the blog history to know yes I'm a Firefighter(not NK) and CR is a Firefighter hater for some reason. Cant pass the written test?? can't pass the Psych test?? CR what pays your bills? what is or was your occupation or is it a secret?
Pam January 17, 2014 at 07:03 AM
Do teachers have the ability to go on workers' comp if they need a medical leave? If so, why would they need to accumulate sick days? If not, I can understand it as insurance against a problem. How many sick days are permitted?
Support NK January 17, 2014 at 02:08 PM
Yes, they can go on worker's comp if the get hurt at work but they do not have TDI. That is the reason for accumulating sick days. They have to depend on their own sick days.
Support NK January 17, 2014 at 02:12 PM
FYI, on Tuesday night's meeting, NKSD Admin. also received raises. How does this offset the savings from the teacher's contract?
Kevin Dubois January 20, 2014 at 03:25 PM
To all, if I may make a couple of comments. I do not often check the Patch or other news comments, but wanted to see the town’s comments on this issue. First, thank you to everyone here and in town who appreciate and support teachers and staff for all that we do for the students every day. It is often a thankless job. Next, just to verify, teachers are not allowed, by law, to receive TDI, and so we have a different mechanism for teachers in the case of illness or serious injury. Also, I respectfully ask that people do not compare the teachers with FF or police in any way. They are entirely different situations. As difficult as the teaching profession is today, I would not choose to rush into fires or confront criminals as a profession, and so they have my respect. Finally, just to make a statement, teachers have not had significant raises in well over 5 years, and none of them have kept pace with cost of living. It is my hope that as time goes on, the town and school department begin to match their respect for us with the correspondent compensation. To another person’s point, NK teachers are not thrilled with this contract, but we made the choices we did with the idea of helping the community as well as our members, and we were less than excited to see some administrator’s raises that were higher than our own. Many teachers took that as a bit of an insult, considering what we did in accepting our contract terms, other, unresolved issues, yet continuing to work professionally during the entire process. Thank you all very much.
Concerned Resident January 20, 2014 at 04:32 PM
good to see that wicky is spreading propaganda on sites other than ff blogs but to make sure that wicky is pleased I would like to ask a question regarding tdi vs teachers accumulating sick days. supportnk and kevin d, at any point do teachers get paid for their unused sick days?
Politics Sheriff of NK January 20, 2014 at 05:16 PM
Because the school committee cares about achieving an outcome. The TC is made up of mostly much lower quality people. Hueston is a disgrace. When she left the school committee it was a vast improvement there, for example.
Kevin Dubois January 20, 2014 at 05:25 PM
To Concerned resident, not sure what you were saying about wicky and propaganda. This is why I usually do not participate in these forums. Also, besides Ms. McNamara the reporter, I think I am the only one here who actually uses my real name. The teacher's contract is public record, so you can see everything you want to know about on the school website. It should answer anything you may want to know.
Concerned Resident January 20, 2014 at 05:59 PM
kevin, my point - I think I understand your rational for saving sick days for covered illness because you do not have tdi but I am asking if unlike tdi if you get paid for unused sick days once you leave the teaching profession or as a north kingstown teacher? Also, I do not believe that tdi pays full salary for missed days.
Dark star January 23, 2014 at 08:50 AM
Kevin Dubois, by my recollection, the last teachers contract amounted to 2% for three years. This three year contract equates to 4% over 3 years. So, the teachers have received 1% a year for the last 6 years. Considering compounding, you and your teachers have received an estimated 9% over the last 6 years. Not many people in the private sector can say the same thing. Not to mention, your new healthcare deduction is pre-tax which is a benefit you didn't have before. As you stated, you and your teachers are not "thrilled with the contract". Well look around and ask your neighbors how they have been boing the last 6 years. I think your perspective will change.
Dark star January 23, 2014 at 08:51 AM
* doing, not boing.
Concerned Resident January 23, 2014 at 03:36 PM
Valid points dark star. interesting that someone such as kevin dubois who is the president of the local nea union comments ½ truths on patch, among other he regularly reads patch posting and comments. unfortunate that he does not respond to questions regarding his comment that falls short of providing full information. also unfortunate that kevin decided to comment as a prelude to the exposure of his actions in a no confidence vote. Kevin also posted that he wanted to thank everyone for appreciating the thankless job performed by teachers, really??. perhaps kevin would like to share teacher’s compensation, compensation steps, benefits and retirement benefits and how much it is costing north Kingstown taxpayers. it is individuals like kevin that work for self-interest goals that will ultimately damage a good thing for his personal gain. shall we remember it is for the kids, correct kevin? I join dark star in asking kevin to compare his be it important function to that of just as import private sector jobs and residents that struggle day to day.
Support NK January 25, 2014 at 02:40 PM
CR and DS you have no clue as to the truth. One Sp. Ed. administrators, received an 10K raise when she took the job and now she makes 14K. She took the position 2 years ago? The teacher's assistants in NK earned 16K for 2013, however, earned 21K in 2012!?
Dark star January 25, 2014 at 04:36 PM
Support NK, your post makes zero sense. 10k raise when she took the job and now makes 14K? TA's earned 16K in 2013 and 21K in 2012? Set the bottle down gently and take a nap.
Joe Smith March 10, 2014 at 03:26 PM
Mr. Dubois does not mention he personally gets paid time off to do "union" business so taxpayers are subsidizing the unions, in addition to being their dues collection handler (another cost the union pushes to taxpayers). Ask Mr. Dubois if he will provide the data when teachers were getting something like 70 paid sick days a year (on a 185 day work schedule) how many were taking those and how much they could cash in? Think about how many private sector workers could miss 40% of their work days and still get paid? Teachers do have a hard job and some go above and beyond and some give the profession a black eye. But in a state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation, with real family incomes on the decline the last few years, and with the highest per capita debt in the nation, having a job that pays almost 50% above the average salary (for the highest step teacher, which most are), with a very good health plan, and with an average retirement package -- even with the cuts -- that is the equivalent of a $2M 401K account -- it is hard to have sympathy with a "less than thrilled" attitude.


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