NEWPORT -- After working for months to reach a collective bargaining agreement between the school department and Council 94, which represents the school’s non-teaching personnel, the Newport School Committee voted to ratify a new contract for the 48 members of Council 94 at a special meeting on Tuesday, April 3.
The contract, which extends through June 30, 2014, is expected to save the district a total of $78,985 over the next two years in operational expenses and $17.1 million in overall savings over the next 20 years.
According to Superintendent John H. Ambrogi, who called the contract “fair,” based on a 5 percent medical care inflation rate for 2014 and beyond, and average life expectancy of 85 years, there would be a reduction of future liability for the district.
Ambrogi said the biggest issue in terms fiscal impact will come by eliminating extended benefits for a portion of Council 94’s membership. According to the new contract, any personnel (paraeducators, custodians, secretaries, and IT specialists) with less than 15 years of experience will no longer be eligible for extended benefits, yielding immediate savings of $419,328 annually.
Committee member Jo Eva Gaines thanked Council 94 for their work on the contract, saying, “I commend [the group] for putting the taxpayers and the kids ahead of any personal gain … You made a tremendous sacrifice and you did it with grace.”
The contract passed 5 – 1, with committee member Thomas Phelan being the opposing vote. NSC member Robert Leary was absent from the day’s meeting.