The Travesty of the School System

The union’s response to the Woonsocket school committee’s approved cuts — which, as Monique suggests, it hopes the judiciary will obviate — was predictable and probably wouldn’t have merited mention except for the closing words of Woonsocket Teachers Guild President Richard Dipardo:

“They’ve cut all sports but track, all extra-curricular activities,” Dipardo said. “It’s just survival.”

Yeah. Survival for the kids, and the minor discomfort of a pay freeze for the grown-ups, some six dozen of whom (I’m told) are approaching retirement with free healthcare grandfathered from a 1994 contract change, and after several years of 7-10% raises.
And let’s not leave retired Superintendent Maureen Macera out of the mix. Here’s Valley Breeze publisher Tom Ward, writing in January 2008:

A few years ago, Macera was Woonsocket’s assistant superintendent, earning on average $103,000 per year for her final three years of service in that post. Three years ago, she was promoted to superintendent. Upon her promotion, she called for the elimination of the assistant superintendent’s post, asking the School Committee to fold those duties into her own and asking for a much larger compensation. The School Committee agreed, and in the past three years, Macera earned $152,900 in year 1, $162,900 in year 2, and now earns $172,900 this year.
In Rhode Island, a pensioner like Macera, with more than 35 years service, receives 80 percent of their highest three years’ pay. …
Had Macera retired as assistant superintendent three years ago with a top three-year average pay of $103,000, she would have a pension of $82,400 per year.
Instead, she took the promotion and worked for a new three-year average wage of about $163,000. Her annual pension now? $130,320. For those of you without a nearby calculator, that’s $2,506 per week. Oh yeah, she gets a 3 percent raise (about $75 per week) every year, too.

That deal puts Macera on the list of public employee retirees taking home six figures as a lifetime “thank you for service.” A few months after Ward wrote the above, Macera retired, and the school committee hired Robert Gerardi at $150,000, with up to ten weeks of paid time off per year.
Reaching a state of mere survival, in this context, isn’t typically a quirk of circumstances; it’s the consequence of years of incompetence and greed. Vicious, drooling, self-fondling greed.
Turn your attention, if you can stand it, to an April 2008 article titled, “Woonsocket schools show surplus“:

Macera and other urban educators are pinning their hopes to a proposed bill called the Fair Share Education Funding Formula, which Macera says would distribute state aid more equitably. The bill proposes redistributing state funds to towns and cities bases on the wealth of the community, student enrollment and the the number of special education students, English language learners and children from poor families. The bill is sponsored by Representatives Edith H. Ajello, D-Providence, and John A. Savage, R-East Providence, and Senators Rhoda E. Perry D-Providence, and Hanna M. Gallo, D-Cranston. “The formula has been used across the country. It does not increase funding but redistributes it based on these factors, making it fairer,” Macera said.
Under the new system, Woonsocket would stand to get an additional $13,164,914 to be phased in over three years. Pawtucket would receive an additional $10,772,350, Providence would receive $49,674,333 and Cranston would get $14,604,658.

The Woonsocket district is already spending half of that amount, in deficit, can there be any doubt that the extra would be filched, as well?

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Ken Block
11 years ago

Pension reform is so desperately needed.
Pension calculations should NOT include pay for longevity, allow for the ‘purchase’ of credits or include overtime compensation.
If the standard of the average of the last 3 years’ salary is to still be used to determine pension calculations, a caveat should be included which caps the pension calculation amount at the last 3 year’s average capped at 20% of the previous 3 year’s average.
Our pension math gets completely blown out when dollars in to the system at much lower pay grades need to support retirement incomes at vastly inflated final salary figures.

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