Class Size Point of Contention in Newport Teachers’ Union Dispute
Monday, October, 12, 2015
The Teachers Association of Newport and the Newport, Rhode Island school district continue their dispute over union contracts as the parties move to arbitration. The main issue that is still in contention is class size. The first arbitration hearing in the dispute will be held October 19th.
Just recently, the teachers union issued a statement refuting comments from the school district’s attorney, Mary Ann Carroll. The union claims the majority of statements made by Carroll and printed in local media are “…misleading, if not untrue and inflammatory.”
The teachers union released their rebuttal in a Facebook post and reiterated that the only issue still in contention is an agreement on the number of students allowed in each class. The statement also made it clear the union does not believe Carroll is being honest when she stated post-retirement medical benefits were an issue.
The school district’s last contract proposal was rejected by the teachers’ union in August, continuing the ongoing dispute. There has been no contract in the last two years. Simultaneously, the city of Newport is trying to improve its fiscal situation and trying to overcome a $1.4 million budget deficit from 2014, which could lead some to believe the city is attempting to save money in its contract negotiations. The school district denies this and points out the only point of contention at this point is class size.
Class size has been an ongoing issue and created problems at the city’s Pell School at the beginning of this school year. The district chose to add another third grade classroom to alleviate some of the overcrowding issues.