Committee approves three year contract with raises for N.S. teachers


NORTH SMITHFIELD – The North Smithfield School Committee has unanimously approved a contract with the teachers’ union that will come with increases in longevity pay, as well as raises over the next three years.

The agreement with the North Smithfield Teacher’s Association, set to take effect on September 1 of this year and expire on August 31 of 2027, must now go before the Town Council for final approval.

Changes from the previous contract include updates to the language governing time off under the Family Medical Leave Act to make district policy compliant with state and federal law. Policies for maternity and parental leave have also been updated to include paid time off for surrogacy and adoption.

Longevity pay is on track to increase, with the most significant gains for teachers with 40 or more years of service, rising from $1,296 to $1,600 annually for the next three years. All teachers with 15 or more years in North Smithfield Public Schools will see some longevity increase, with most of the payments rising by less than $200.

For salaries, the contract includes a 2 percent increase for the 2024/2025 and 2025/2026 school years, and raise of 3 percent for the 2026/2027 school year. With the increase, a first step teacher in North Smithfield will make $44,768 if they start in the 26/27 school year. For services such as after school tutoring and summer school, pay will increase from a minimum of $40 per hour to a minimum of $50 per hour.

Concessions were also made by the union, particularly in the area of healthcare, with a phase out of the school district’s contribution to employee deductibles. According to the agreement, the district will cover 50 percent of the charge in the upcoming school year, with a decreased contribution in the second year and the employee responsible for the full fee in the final year.

“We are going to phase out the school side paying any of it over the next few years,” explained School Committee Chairman James Lombardi.

Lombardi thanked all who were involved in negotiation of the deal, especially NSTA President Christine Welch, noting the agreement has already been ratified by union membership.

“Negotiations are always tough because we want to do more and we can only do so much,” Lombardi said. “It was always professional.”

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  1. As I look at the school committee I see an extreme lack of real world work experience and knowledge. I miss the days of Art Basset, Merredythe Nadeau, and Mike Clifford on the committee. And let’s not forget Superintendent Lindberg always looking to do the right thing. Back then meetings lasted hours as they debated issue thoroughly to make an informed decision while also keeping an eye on the budget and funding. There was no easy negotiating as the union threatened to picked school committee members houses. That group was not afraid to make the tough right decisions no matter what may have been the more popular choice. Just a fact NS ranks only 15th in RI according to US news and world report. In 2015 NS was ranked 9th and has slipped in the last 9 years. I doubt the new union contract and salary increase will do much to change the ranking.

    • Real world experience and knowledge? Jean Meo is a longtime school committee member, parent, and community leader, having served on numerous boards & committees for decades. Then Votta was a teacher in NS schools if I remember right. Then Lombardi is an accomplished attorney & CPA, Connell is an attorney and Terri Bartomioli is another long time member, business owner and parent.

      • Jean Meo being a longtime school committee member, parent, and community leader, having served on numerous boards & committees for decades is not real world business experience. Votta being a teacher is also not real world experience. Also Jim and Bill have only worked for state or city organizations. All have no real world accountability experience. Just keep giving raises while the educational quality suffers.

        Now let’s provide some facts instead of anecdotical numbers. Per the NEA union website RI has an average teacher salary of $79,289 with the NS average salary per the budget at $85,058. Now let’s look at New England states CT $83,400, MA $92,307, NH $64,169, and ME $59,964. Conclusion is RI & NS average salary is on the high side and is very competitive. Now if we look at the starting salaries per the same union website RI is $46,066, CT $48,784, MA $51,057, NH $41,590, and ME $41,163. Again RI is very comparative. Now the NS union chose to only increase the top step and keep the 1st step the same in the last contract (aka the NS union only values longevity). Now for the quality fact, RI has the 9th highest average salary in the US per the NEA website with a 22nd US rank for educational quality. Just note every other NE state ranks in the top 10 in educational quality. In conclusion the numbers do not lie so as a taxpayer and in life when I pay top dollar for a product or service I expect top quality results. Now if we followed the Massachusetts method of reviewing teachers performance every year and weeding out the poor performers quality would increase.

        • I’d assumed you meant experienced in education or government, I see you you were referring to a specific kind of experience, running a business. Problem is, businesses are for making money, schools are not.

          Thanks for all the figures, idk what that has to do with what I said.

          • JoshW he has no solutions. Just gripes and complaints about useless people spending his tax dollars. Same story and playbook for every spend or investment; the people are idiots and we don’t need to spend any money.

            Kind of surprising about his stance on teachers seeing he was in the teachers union for years.

    • It’s really not the people on the committee it’s the lack of real commitment to attracting professional and dedicated educators, with a favorable starting salary. When I see the discrepancy of what a first year teacher in MA will make (range from 58,275-85,148) vs 44,168, why in God’s name would I want to teach in North Smithfield? Even the police in town are making >100,000 with overtime. Let’s begin to compensate educators better and maybe we can move up in the rankings.

    • How do you suggest pay be structured in order to tie it to performance? I love that the idea of paying teachers less is so often floated as a way to get them to ‘perform’ better.

      The beatings will continue until morale improves!

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