PROVIDENCE – Legislation sponsored by East Providence State Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65) in the House and which was passed by both chambers in the General Assembly was signed into law last …
PROVIDENCE – Legislation sponsored by East Providence State Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65) in the House and which was passed by both chambers in the General Assembly was signed into law last week by Gov. Dan McKee allowing retired teachers to remain on the job as districts are still struggling to find full and part-time instructors as the state emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Assembly passed both versions of the bill, in the House No. 7825 submitted by Amore and in the Senate by Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston), codifying the temporary suspension of the cap on the number of days retired educators can work without penalty due to the pandemic.
“The pandemic has stressed our education and healthcare systems to their limits and we have seen the crucial necessity to be adaptable when dealing with this virus while also delivering the services our residents rely upon and need. This bill will allow us to continue to be adaptable when educating our students and caring for our sick as we remain vigilant during the still ongoing pandemic,” said Amore.
The rules were suspended at the start of the 2021-22 school term under an Executive Order of the governor, but were set to expire on March 31. The House approved Amore’s version on March 22, the Senate Archambault’s on March 24 and McKee put pen to paper on March 28. Unless extended by Assembly, the legislation will “sunset” on June 30 or the end of the 2022 session.
“Our students have been through so much over the past two years and without this legislation, they faced the possibility of further disruption to their educations. I am happy that the General Assembly came together to give our schools the flexibility they need to continue serving our children properly throughout the end of the school year while also strengthening the strained staffing levels of our healthcare system,” said Archambault.
The legislation (House: 2022-H 7825; Senate: 2022-S 2560) extends the rule exemption to the end of the current school year beyond the existing 90-day cap on post-retirement employment.
It also addresses requirements that certain school vehicles are used in the transportation of students when on specific routes. The legislation allows other types of vehicles to be used and all vehicles transporting children would have the proper safety equipment and features needed to keep students safe.
If the legislation was not passed, Rhode Island would have been left with a shortage of teachers, substitute teachers and transportation options from April 1 through the remainder of the school year.
Finally, the legislation also eases the work requirements for registered nurse graduates pending licensure, allowing more much-needed nurses the opportunity to work while the state still combats COVID-19 and its impacts.
In city, East Providence has struggled even beyond the pandemic to address short and long-term substitute teachers. The central office of Superintendent Kathryn Crowley and the School Committee have attempted to remediate the situation by increasing the pay scale of both.
“It’s important to every district in the state,” said Amore, who is an announced candidate seeking his party’s nomination for the Secretary of State at the 2022 election.
He continued, “In East Providence, we have a number of retired teachers in long term positions who would be forced out of those jobs before the end of this school year without this legislation having been passed and signed by the governor.”