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Providence Union Head: Bilingual Pay for School Clerks Unfair

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

 

The head of the Providence Schools clerks union is taking the city to task for its treatment of clerical support staff, as it pertains to pay incentives to members to meet an increasingly diverse student body. 

"When you talk about diversity, let me start by saying that we are incredibly diverse," said Jo-Anne Micheletti, President of the Local 1339 Clerical Union.  "I've got 192 active members, 97 of those are minorities."

"When I first became President, being bilingual was going to supersede seniority, so what we agreed upon was that if you took a class to be conversational in Spanish, you could get $250 for the year.  That breaks down to forty-eight cents an hour, " continued Micheletti.  "My starting members make $21,000 a year.  And we wonder why it's so hard to hire."

"The city just brought on a number of translators at $55,000 a piece.  I have no problem with that, they probably deserve more than that," said Micheletti.  "But what happens is, when I get clerks being pulled away to help with translation duties, especially the native Spanish speaking clerks, they get pulled into classrooms and pulled away from work."

"I've got 34 positions that are budgeted that they refuse to fill," said Micheletti. "All I hear from schools is, "We have 700 kids and three clerks, we can't meet the need." 

Addressing the Need

Micheletti said the Spanish class for interested clerks wasn't offered last year, as required, but still have time to this year.

"And what happens is, when the [Spanish-speaking] clerks get pulled away to translate, the work falls on the other clerks, and it creates an unfair environment for everyone," said Micheletti. "Is there a need for more Spanish speaking people in the school?  Absolutely."

Micheletti said that program that the city had years ago "taking women off welfare" to get paid to help in the schools was something she thinks the city should revisit. 

"We had the program in place a while back -- it wasn't just for translating, but I'd like to see it used for that now," said Micheletti.  "They pay was through community centers, not the schools.  It could come from grants.  You can get women who want to spend a few hours getting paid, get a sense of what's going on in the schools, get a paycheck."

"We get volunteers now who come in and come help behind the counter -- we don't need that," said Micheletti. "We need them in the halls, with the teachers, helping with translating."

Editor's Note: Micheletti corrected that the Spanish class was not offered last year but can still be offered this year. 

 

Related Slideshow: The RI High Schools with the Most Absentee Students

Below are the rates of chronic absenteeism for public high schools across the state. Figures are taken from the InfoWorks database maintained by the Rhode Island Department of Education. As the state defines it, a student has become chronically absent when he or she has missed 10 percent of the school year. With a 180-day mandated school year, that comes out to at least 18 or more days of missed school. Data is for the most recent academic year, 2013 to 2014.

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#59 Ponaganset High School

Location: Foster and Glocester

Total # Students: 684

% Chronically Absent: 4%

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#58 Beacon Charter High School for the Arts

Location: Woonsocket

Total # of Students: 227

% Chronically Absent: 6%

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#57 Barrington High School

Location: Barrington

Total # of Students: 1,027

% Chronically Absent: 7%

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#56 North Smithfield High School

Location: North Smithfield

Total # of Students: 519

% Chronically Absent: 7 %

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#55 Portsmouth High School

Location: Portsmouth

Total # of Students: 960

% Chronically Absent: 8%

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#54 East Greenwich High School

Location: East Greenwich

Total # of Students: 729

% Chronically Absent: 9%

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#53 Exeter-West Greenwich High School

Location: Exeter and West Greenwich

Total # of Students: 540

% Chronically Absent: 9%

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#52 Chariho Regional High School

Location: Charlestown

Total # of Students: 1,201

% Chronically Absent:

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#51 Middletown High School

Location: Middletown

Total # of Students: 685

% Chronically Absent: 10%

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#50 North Kingstown Senior High School

Location: North Kingstown

Total # of Students: 1,387

% Chronically Absent:11%

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#49 Smithfield Senior High School

Location: Smithfield

Total # of Students: 755

% Chronically Absent: 11 %

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#48 Westerly High School 

Location: Smithfield

Total # of Students: 917

% Chronically Absent: 11%

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#47 Block Island School

Location: New Shoreham

Total # of Students: NA

% Chronically Absent: 12%

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#46 South Kingstown High School

Location: South Kingstown

Total # of Students: 1,073

% Chronically Absent: 12 %

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#45 Tiverton High School

Location: Tiverton

Total # of Students: 1,607

% Chronically Absent: 14%

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#44 Coventry High School

Location: Coventry

Total # of Students: 1,607

% Chronically Absent: 14 %

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#43 Cumberland High School

Location: Cumberland

Total # of Students: 1,337

% Chronically Absent: 14%

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#42 Narragansett High School

Location: Narragansett

Total # of Students: 429

% Chronically Absent: 14%

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#41 The Greene School

Location: Exeter

Total # of Students: 162

% Chronically Absent: 15%

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#40 Highlander Charter Academy

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: NA

% Chronically Absent: 16%

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#39 Burrillville High School

Location: Burrillville

Total # of Students: 682

% Chronically Absent: 18%

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#38 Lincoln Senior High School

Location: Lincoln

Total # of Students: 1,005

% Chronically Absent: 18%

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#37 Mt. Hope High School

Location: Bristol

Total # of Students: 990

% Chronically Absent:19%

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#36 East Providence High School

Location: East Providence

Total # of Students: 1,502

% Chronically Absent: 19%

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#35 Paul Cuffee Charter School

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: NA

% Chronically Absent: 19%

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#34 Times2 Academy

Location: Providence

Total Number of Students: NA

% Chronically Absent: 19%

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#33 Academy for Career Exploration

Location: Providence

Total Number of Students: 168

% Chronically Absent: 19%

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#32 Scituate High School

Location: Scituate

Total Number of Students: 469

% Chronically Absent: 19%

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#31 J.M. Walsh School

Location: Pawtucket

Total number of students: 192

% Chronically Absent: 20%

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#30 Classical High School

Location: Providence

Total Number of Students: 1,119

% Chronically Absent: 21%

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#29 Toll Gate High School

Location: Wawick

Total # of Students: 958

% Chronically Absent: 21%

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#28 West Warwick Senior High School

Location: West Warwick

Total # of Students: 935

% Chronically Absent: 21%

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#27 Davies Career and Techinical Center

Location: Lincoln

Total # of Students: 849

% Chronically Absent: 22%

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#26 Pilgrim High School

Location: Warwick

Total # of Students: 991

% Chronically Absent: 22%

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#25 Johnston Senior High School

Location: Johnston

Total # of Students: 893

% Chronically Absent: 24%

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#24 North Providence High School

Location: North Providence

Total # of Students: 969

% Chronically Absent: 26%

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#23 Cranston High School East

Location: Cranston

Total # of Students: 1,583

% Chronically Absent: 27%

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#22 Warwick Veterans Memorial High School

Location: Warwick

Total # of Students: 910

% Chronically Absent: 27%

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#21 RI Nurses Institute

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: 266

% Chronically Absent: 29%

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#20 Rogers High School

Location: Newport

Total # of Students: 538

% Chronically Absent: 32%

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#19 RI School for the Deaf

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: NA

% Chronically Absent: 32%

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#18 Tolman Senior High School

Location: Pawtucket

Total # of Students: 1,034

% Chronically Absent: 33%

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#17 Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: 838

% Chronically Absent: 33%

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#16 Cranston High School West

Location: Cranston

Total # of Students:1,526

% Chronically Absent: 33%

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#15 Village Green Virtual Charter School

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: NA

% Chronically Absent: 39%

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#14 E-Cubed Academy

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: 349

% Chronically Absent: 39%

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#13 Mount Pleasant High School

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: 898

% Chronically Absent: 39%

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#12 Central Falls High School

Location: Central Falls

Total # of Students: 727

% Chronically Absent: 40%

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#11 Shea Senior High School

Location: Pawtucket

Total # of Students: 858

% Chronically Absent: 42%

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#10 Blackstone Charter Academy

Location: Pawtucket

Total # of Students: 168

% Chronically Absent: 43%

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#9 Providence Career and Technical Academy

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: 577

% Chronically Absent: 44%

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#8 Woonsocket High School

Location: Woonsocket

Total # of Students: 1,579

% Chronically Absent: 47%

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#7 Cranston Construction Career Academy

Location: Cranston

Total # of Students:158

% Chronically Absent: 49%

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#6 William B. Cooley Senior High School

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: 617

% Chronically Absent: 50%

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#5 Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: 486

% Chronicallly Absent: 53%

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#4 Central High School

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: 1,112

% Chronically Absent: 55%

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#3 Hope High School

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: 894

% Chronically Absent: 55%

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#2 Sheila Skip Nowell Leadership Academy (II)

Location: Providence

Total # of Students: 81

% Chronically Absent: 87%

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#1 Sheila Skip Nowell Leadership Academy (I)

Location: Central Falls

Total # of Students: 73

% of Chronically Absent: 89%

 
 

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