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Warwick Teachers' Union protests lack of payment ahead of holidays

The Warwick Teachers' Union picketed outside a School Committee meeting Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. (WJAR)

The Warwick Teachers' Union picketed outside a School Committee meeting Tuesday night.

While teachers claim they're owed money, the superintendent said they'll have to wait until after the holidays for it.

Many teachers are refusing to be silent, taking to the hallway outside the School Committee's executive session.

"This is about the fact that they are violating a contract that they negotiated and signed," Darlene Netcoh, who is the Warwick Teachers' Union President, said.

Under a recently ratified contract, teachers are supposed to get retroactive pay and a pay raise by December 21.

But Superintendent Philip Thornton said scheduling with the City Council has slowed the process of cutting the checks.

"We did make efforts to get on the agenda for December, but the schedules played out where we're on for January 3 and January 17 and we're scheduled to give them the pay raise on February 1," he said.

In total, it's more than $1.5 million. Teachers would each get three checks.

"A first step teacher would be entitled to about $400," Netcoh said. "A top-step teacher would be entitled to about $700."

The most recent contract has elements favoring the school committee, as well as the teachers.

For example, teachers get to keep their 90 sick days, while the district is allowed to institute new teaching evaluations and grading policies.

"We have an agreement -- both sides ratified it. The trick now is to pay them what they're entitled and that's on February 1 right now," Thornton said.

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