On August 24, in a 4 to 3 vote, the North Providence, RI, School Committee agreed to pay School Supt. Donna Ottaviano an extra $35,000 for taking over the duties of the vacant assistant supt. position. Before getting the raise, Ottaviano planned on retiring in two years and would have qualified for a pension payment of 80% of her pre-raise salary of $123,000. But, by adding $35,000 to her pay for her final two years, her pension would go up by more than $18,600 a year, or nearly $500,000 over the next 20 with cost-of-living adjustments. Ottaviana would only have to contribute $6,650 or 9.5% of $35,000 twice.
Thankfully word got out as N. Prov. Mayor Charles A. Lombardi said Wednesday, “The phones have been ringing off the hook with people complaining about this. The School Committee just doesn’t get it.” A committee meeting was planned for that night. The four committee members who voted for Ottaviano’s sweetheart deal were Chairman Anthony Marciano, Donald Cataldi, Helen Reall, and Ronald Iannetta. Earlier in the day Marciano and Cataldi were adamant that the meeting was not called to deal with the controversial pay package.
Although meeting behind closed doors, a lively debate could be overheard before the committee publicly voted 6 to 0 to overturn Ottaviano’s extra $35,000 in compensation. Clearly, leadership was not pleased about having their feathers ruffled by taxpayers. What’s even more appalling, though, is that they did this deal in the light of day, while for months Rhode Islanders have been reading about the pension deficit. Enough is enough.
For more, listen to interviews with Tom Ward of The Valley Breeze Newspapers, and N. Prov. Mayor Charles A. Lombardi on the Helen Glover Show.