Warwick teachers, school committee reach tentative contract

Parents and students joined a demonstration by Warwick teachers, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (WJAR)

A state-appointed mediator said school teachers and administrators in Warwick reached a tentative contract agreement early Thursday morning.

A news release said the agreement between the Warwick Teachers' Union and the Warwick School Committee was reached at about 12:30 a.m. in the office of Mayor Scott Avedisian.

"Old issues got resolved," Avedesian told NBC 10 News. "People got things off their chests. It gave people the ability to talk about the future."

While no specifics of the deal were immediately released, mediator Vincent Ragosta said details will be coming out over the next few days, as will documentation to hopefully execute the agreement.

"There were a number of educational policy issues that the school committee was adamant about bringing about reform," Ragosta said. "The parties are far better off devoting their financial resources, and their energies to settling this than litigating it."

Teachers have been working without a contract since 2015.

The teachers' union and the school committee have butted heads over several sticking points, including classroom sizes, the ratio of special education teachers to students, as well as salary and sick time.

The dispute has become very contentious recently.

The school district said "sick-outs" by teachers closed five schools over the past two weeks. Administrators on Monday asked for and won a temporary restraining order to stop any labor action by teachers.

Parents, as well as some students, joined teachers Tuesday for a picket outside City Hall. Now, they say they are pleased an agreement has been made.

"I'm glad they got it because there will be no more tension and everybody will be happy," Charlie Winter, a parent, said.

A school committee meeting originally planned for 7:15 a.m. was canceled as a result of the tentative agreement.

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