Belated School Budget Meeting Scheduled Wednesday Afternoon
School Committee to meet for open session at 3:50 p.m.
The Woonsocket School Committee will meet tomorrow afternoon at 108 High St. to discuss the 2014 school budget, well past its original March 1 deadline despite the efforts of School Committee member Anita McGuire-Forcier.
The passed deadline did not escape the notice of Lorraine Corey, city resident and editor of Mywoonsocket.com, who criticized the school department, School Committee and Budget Commission for allowing the deadline to pass without presenting a budget. "Had it not been for Committeewoman Anita McGuire Forcier, the fact that the school budget was late again would not have come to light until today," Corey told City Councilors during their March 4 meeting.
The passed deadline also drew criticism from taxpayer Christine MacWilliams. Corey noted McGuire-Forcier was recently voted out as Committee chair because she spent too much time with last year's budget.
According to Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan, Corey said, the Budget Commission gave the school department an extension on the budget deadline to April 1.
"Be that as it may, the School Department has not even begun to work on the budget," Corey said." The finance sub-committee hasn't met, and there have been no workshop meetings on the budget, Corey said.
In fact, McGuire-Forcier said Wednesday afternoon, "I'll only be seeing it for the first time tomorrow."
Last year's budget took the School Committee weeks to finish, with multiple meetings each week.
"This is inexcusable," Corey said March 4. "Inexcusable, because the Budget Commission has approved every tool to ensure that the job gets done." Those tools include an interim finance director, Ralph Malafronte, the hiring of former WMS Principal Patrick McGee as Director of Curriculum, a financial controller, a confidential secretary, all paid for by the taxpayers, she said.
"She's correct," McGuire-Forcier said, "We should have had the budget done." McGuire-Forcier said she began asking questions about the budget weeks beforehand, but Committee member John Donlon, who serves on the finance subcommittee, didn't have any information for her, she said.
At the Dec. 8, 2011 city council meeting, Corey said, Donoyan asked the council to let her do her job, and not to micro-manager her. " 'If you micromanage me, I will tell you forthright, in public, that you are hurting the children of Woonsocket,' " Corey quoted Donoyan.
"It's time for some micromanaging, not only by the Budget Commission, but by the School Committee and by the City Council," Corey said, "for the taxpayers of Woonsocket who are footing the bill, and for the children."
McGuire Forcier said Donoyan should have told the School Committee about the need for the extension beforehand. "The superintendent really dropped the ball when it came to communication," she said.
Regarding criticism she's received from fellow Committee members about her focus on the budget, Forcier said the children they're responsible for depend on them to pay close attention to funding their education. She said it's true that their focus should be on education. "However, education and finance go hand in hand."