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Portsmouth teachers to protest contract changes

February 7, 2011

Portsmouth may be one of the state’s highest performing districts on standardized tests, but it is apparently not immune to union-management tension.

Teachers are planning a protest tonight outside Portsmouth High School, where union leaders are scheduled to attend a mediation with district officials. The teachers say they are angry with attempts to do away with seniority, cut teacher salaries and increase health care payments for school employees.

The Portsmouth School Committee and the union have been unable to resolve the contract dispute since August.

Teachers say they have not received their regularly scheduled step increases for the last two years, while school administrators and other town employees have received raises. They also charge that many teachers will be forced to take second jobs or switch careers if their pay and benefits are cut.

During the 2008-2009 school year the average teacher salary in Portsmouth was $39,500 for a first year teacher and just over $71,000 for a teacher at the top level of the pay scale. Both of those rates were about $1,000 above the average for teacher pay in the Rhode Island.

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