Cranston budget battle: Mayor Hopkins asks council to delay ratification of school contract
Friday 08 July 2022
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The town of Cranston’s budget battle continues.
Recently, Mayor Kenneth Hopkins announced that the city would cut 21 positions. Now, Hopkins has expressed serious concerns about the status of two school employee contracts that are due for review by the city council’s finance committee on Monday. 11 July.
Two orders are scheduled to hear the Collective Bargaining Agreement with Cranston Teachers Alliance Local 1704, ATF and the Collective Bargaining Agreement with Cranston Teachers Alliance, Local 1704, Paraprofessional Unit of the AFT.
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“I call on the city council to refer contacts to the school board with a strong message calling for further discussion and reductions,” Hopkins said. “The contracts just don’t match the current economic climate and we can’t keep piling raises on top of raises.”
“As part of my obligation to protect ratepayers and preserve our financial health, I must speak up when the school department and committee controls more than half of the city’s overall budget,” he added.
Hopkins says the city is facing a $12 million deficit.
“I know a lot of times the contracts come from the school department and are changed slightly by the city council,” Hopkins said. “This is the year where we have to pause and say we have to do better.”
Hopkins said a major concern is teachers committing to a three-year contract with annual raises for senior teachers (most teachers at the top rung) of 3%, 1% and 1 .5%, for a total of 5.5%. The cumulative impact over three years based on school numbers would be over $16 million.
“Even more concerning is a ratification bonus of $2,000 for all teachers and senior teacher longevity increases of $750 each. I wonder if the school department was paying attention when all of Rhode Island was outraged by the state’s $3,000 vaccination bonuses. Why are we rewarding employees more for ratifying a contract that is already one of the best in the state? Hopkins added.