Senate Commission looks into possibility of statewide teacher contracts

A new Senate commission has begun looking at the pros and cons of using a single statewide teachers contract.

"I think it is an enormous task. Just tonight’s introduction to the kinds of issues people are concerned about shows the scope of the issues that would be involved in getting a core statewide contract together,” said State Senator William Conley Jr. the Chair of the Commission.

The formation of the group comes from legislation passed earlier this year.

Conley says some of the bigger issues so far include healthcare costs and teacher salaries. Currently, the state’s 30 plus districts negotiate separately.

"I think there’s a lot of potential here. I talk about it to the members of NEA Rhode Island in terms of a statewide base contract realizing that Rhode Island’s tradition of local control of schools is an important one but there are a lot of things that need to be revisited,” said Bob Walsh the Executive Director of NEA RI.

Walsh says it’s too soon to have any feedback from teachers, but he says he’s eager to learn more.

"This was the first meeting so we’ll be getting  a lot of feedback I’m sure over the coming months,” said Walsh.

Commission members hope to report their findings for the Senate this winter.

(C) WLNE 2015