R 430
2015 -- S 1027
Enacted 06/25/2015

S E N A T E   R E S O L U T I O N

Introduced By: Senators Paiva Weed, Gallo, Ruggerio, and Goodwin
Date Introduced: June 25, 2015

     WHEREAS, Public education is a priority for Rhode Island's families, communities,
educators, and lawmakers. Each year, supporters of K-12 schools passionately advocate for the
resources that are needed to ensure that every learner receives the instruction and opportunities
that will allow them to flourish; and
     WHEREAS, Classroom teachers remain the most important school-based factor
contributing to students' academic success. Because of the central role that teachers play in
supporting student achievement, school districts in Rhode Island invest considerable time
developing and negotiating contracts that strive to put into place the conditions that promote
teacher excellence, satisfaction, and growth; and
     WHEREAS, Under Rhode Island General Law, local school districts must engage in
teacher contract negotiations every three years, a process that involves the active participation of
superintendents, business officers, teacher representatives, and teacher union personnel, as well as
elected and appointed members of local school committees. The time that is spent on teacher
contracts means that these talented professionals have less time to devote to the important tasks of
overseeing district policy, operating schools, and attending to student learning; and
     WHEREAS, Rhode Island statutes contain provisions that create challenges to the most
effective placement of teachers, including limiting the ease of movement from one district to
another, or sharing resources, where certain skills may be needed; and
     WHEREAS, As the smallest state in the nation, Rhode Island may benefit from having
the state assume responsibility for negotiating a single statewide teacher contract, which allows
stakeholders in local school districts to focus more of their energy and efforts on student learning;
     WHEREAS, In 2003, the General Assembly directed the Rhode Island Department of
Administration (DOA) to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of a statewide teacher contract. The
DOA's report, submitted to the General Assembly on May 12, 2004, provided estimates of the
impact of a single statewide teacher contract that varied too widely to be useful as a basis for
decision-making; and
     WHEREAS, The Rhode Island Foundation has recently undertaken a comprehensive
study to gather information that will help to determine if students, teachers, school districts, and
taxpayers would benefit, instructionally and financially, from a single statewide teacher contract;
now, therefore be it
     RESOLVED, That a special legislative commission be and the same is hereby created
consisting of eleven (11) members: two (2) of whom shall be members of the Rhode Island
Senate, not more than one from the same political party, to be appointed by the President of the
Senate; one of whom shall be the Director of the Department of Administration, or designee; one
of whom shall be the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, or designee; one of
whom shall be the Chair of the Board of Education's Council on Elementary and Secondary
Education, or designee; one of whom shall be the Chairperson of the Rhode Island School
Superintendents' Association, or designee; two (2) of whom shall be representatives of the
National Education Association Rhode Island, to be appointed by the President of the Senate; two
(2) of whom shall be representatives of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health
Professionals, to be appointed by the President of the Senate; and one of whom shall be the
Chairperson of the Rhode Island Association of School Committees, or designee.
     The purpose of said commission shall be to make a comprehensive study and make
recommendations regarding the costs, benefits, and impact on taxpayers of a statewide teacher
contract in Rhode Island, which shall include salaries, benefits, incentives, and work conditions.
In studying these issues, the commission is encouraged to:
     (1) Review the impact of current Rhode Island General Laws, including ยง 16-7-29 which
allows for up to twelve (12) annual teacher salary steps, and other laws that may deter the optimal
matching of teaching professionals and school districts;
     (2) Utilize recent studies that will contribute to the focus and recommendations of the
     (3) Examine trends, current policies, and available data pertaining to teacher salaries,
benefits, incentives, and work conditions in school districts in Rhode Island, regionally, and
     (4) Identify the particular and total potential costs and benefits that would be incurred
with a single statewide teacher contract using different assumptions and models;
     (5) Identify the components that would be most practicable to include in a statewide
teacher contract;
     (6) Identify statutory and regulatory changes that would have to take place to allow a
statewide teacher contract; and
     (7) Identify a transition process that would allow all school districts in Rhode Island to
migrate to a statewide contract within a six (6) year period.
     Forthwith upon passage of this resolution, the members of the commission shall meet at
the call of the President of the Senate who shall designate the Chair and Vice Chair.
     Vacancies in said commission shall be filled in the same manner as the original
appointment. A member of the public may be appointed in the place of a Senator. A simple
majority shall constitute a quorum.
     The membership of said commission shall receive no compensation for their services.
     All departments and agencies of the state shall furnish such advice and information,
documentary and otherwise, to said commission and its agents as is deemed necessary or
desirable by the commission to facilitate the purposes of this resolution; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That the commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the
President of the Senate on or before February 1, 2016, and said commission shall expire on
March 31, 2016.