"It's amicable, with lots of discussion. We're hoping to get to a contract in a couple of weeks," said Jane Argentieri of Rhode Island NEA, the union representing EG teachers.
"I don’t think we’ll have a contract by school, but I’m hoping we’ll have one shortly after school starts," said EGSD lawyer Matt Oliverio last week.
Both Argentieri and Oliverio said they would not comment on contract specifics, but both used the word "amicable" to describe the negotiations so far.
According to Argentieri, whether or not negotiations continue after a contract expires "depends on the situation. It really depends on where you are ... if it's amicable."
The last time teacher contract talks broke down in East Greenwich was in August 2007, delaying the start of that school year two days.
"We have a pretty good working relationship with them," said Oliverio, referring to the teachers union. So far, the two sides have met nearly a dozen times, with two meetings scheduled this week. Both sides said additional sessions would probably be set up into next week.
"We're discussing the entire contract," said Argentieri. "The commissioner has her view of what contract language should be and we have another."
Argentieri was referring to state education commissioner Deborah Gist. In January, the EG School Committee approved a new personnel policy eliminating the use of seniority as the sole criteria for teacher hiring and placement. Committee Chairman David Green said the action came in an effort to align EGSD policy with the state Department of Education's Basic Education Program, or BEP.
At that meeting, Donna Hayes, co-president of the EG teachers union argued such changes must be part of collective bargaining, not imposed by the district.
"If any changes need to be negotiated to optimize student learning, they will bargained in good faith at that time," Hayes said then.
Argentieri said seniority was only one of the issues under discussion. "Certainly, seniority is one of the issues, but not the only one," she said Monday.
"We will continue to discuss language and issues until we get to an agreement," she said.
On the school administration side, Oliverio said discussions were "slow but steady ... but we’ll get there.”