PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza hosted his second annual ‘All In: Providence Education Summit’ on Saturday.
The day-long even included discussions, workshops, and breakout sessions, aimed at improving education.
“The idea here is to make sure that the community is involved with the work that we’re doing in our school department, you know we can’t do it alone,” says Mayor Elorza.
However, the event comes amidst a contract dispute between teachers and the city.
The president of the Providence Teachers Union says they haven’t had a contract negotiation meeting with the mayor since January and that teachers have been working without a contract for more than 100 school days.
While the summit was going on inside, PTU President Maribeth Calabro, along with more than a dozen other educators, picketed outside the event.
“We aren’t protesting,” says Calabro. “We are actually here because we want the community to get our side of the story. We started negotiations last January and they obviously fell off on January 19th when the mayor said that he had no money for raises for us for any of the 3 years of the contract.”
“I’m not going to negotiate in public,” adds Mayor Elorza. “What I can say and it’s a fact, they received a raise less than a year ago. And so it’s just impossible to think about giving someone two raises in a row.”
A flyer teachers were handing out accuses the mayor of walking away from the bargaining table.
“We never left the negotiation table, we haven’t reach impasse yet,” he says.
In the wake of teacher walkouts across the country, Calabro says they don’t want local parents to be concerned the contract dispute will affect their children.
“We will always be here for their kids, we will continue to teach and we will continue to do what we do best,” says Calabro.
The mayor and union president plan to meet on Monday. While they won’t be discussing contract negotiations at that meeting, Mayor Elorza says he hopes to get another session on the books in the coming weeks.