Budget Commission Considers Blocking Reorganization Of School Committee

E-mail memo from Committeeman Chris Roberts warns move could disrupt efforts to solve deficits.


Budget Commission members are waiting on the advice of the state Revenue Department's legal counsel on whether they're able to stop a move to re-organize the School Committee.

The issue was raised by a June 22 e-mail memo to the Commission from School Committeeman Chris Roberts about an item on the school board's Wednesday agenda to modify bylaws to allow a non-election related reorganization of the board.

The effort, Roberts wrote, has, "...the ultimate end goal presumptively the election of a new Chair (currently Anita Forcier-McGuire) and/or Vice Chair (currently Vimala Phongsavanh)."

In regular times, Roberts wrote, such a change might be appropriate, but given the fiscal oversight of the Budget Commission and the city's struggle to balance the budget, "I consider it a risky move at best," Roberts wrote.

Commission member Mayor Leo Fontaine said the School Committee may have to defer to the Budget Commission on the move, a sentiment Roberts echoed in his memo.

Roberts said that since the School Committee Chairman represents the Committee in signing official documents and contracts, the ammendment would affect school finances, which now fall under the Budget Commission's authority.

Also, he said, since the School Committee Chairman makes appointments to sub-committees, including the Finance Subcommittee, "I am nervous that a change in Chairmanship due to personality differences will result in committee re-assignments, not based on merit and aptitude, but on alliances, especially in the important arena of finance."

Roberts asked in the memo that the Commission remove the issue from the School Committee's agenda for their Wednesday meeting — which attributes the item to School Committeeman John Donlon (see agenda attached to this article). Roberts said the Commission should invoke the panel's power to adopt rules and regulations to effectively carry out its mission and to alter or rescind actions of municipal officers, employees, boards, authorities and commissions.

Though the Budget Commission has not hired a legal advisor, Galoogly suggested that the panel use the Department of Revenue's legal counsel, Marilyn McConaughy, to assess the matter.

The Commission voted to ask McConaughy to examine whether the issue falls under the Budget Commission's authority.

After the meeting, Galoogly said she was suspending judgement on the question. As long as the matter doesn't impact the Budget Commission's ability to operate, she said, "My goal would be to stay away from it."

Fontaine said presently, the School Committee only re-organizes after an election, when there's likely to be a change of the makeup of the board.

Fontaine said the proposed change could open the door for unpredictable changes in the School Committee's leadership, and make the board less stable. Regarding Forcier-McGuire, he said, she's been very active on behalf of the committee and in organizing testimony at the state house during the city's fiscal crisis. "I have not seen any other School Committee Person, or School Committee Chairperson for that matter, ever be more involved than the current chairperson."

The Woonsocket Budget Commission's next meeting will be Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., to discuss the wastewater treatment plant. Galoogly said she expects McConaughy to be able to advise on the School Committee's potential reorganization plans before then, in time for the Commission to act before the School Committee's Wednesday night meeting if it chooses.

DMA June 27, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Ward Blocked the Investigation of which would have pointed the finger at Ward and Fontaine!
DMA June 27, 2012 at 08:23 PM
John Ward CPA cannot ballance a check Book!
Lisa June 27, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Sounds like you should run for office soon.
DonQ June 27, 2012 at 08:45 PM
I certainly wouldn't hire John Ward to do any work for any company that I owned. I can't see putting any trust/faith in any audit he was responsible for.
dead in the water June 27, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Dead in the water "Hey Smart one. You pass the police or fire test?" Smart one "Nah man. Obviously, I fail at life:(" Dead in the water "I know, man. I'm a huge disappointment as well. Maybe we should clean toilets for a living?" Smart one "Good idea. Toilets are full of the same stuff we are anyway:)"
Anonymous June 27, 2012 at 09:19 PM
In the land of fiction, trolling would mean that your a troll. Everyone knows that trolls great weakness is fire. Careful!
Joe Sousa. June 27, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Sen. Mark Cote put's in Voter Initiative legislation every year. He gets my vote if I could vote for him. We need more like him. then things would get better.
Novan for Life June 28, 2012 at 12:16 AM
may i need remind you the state and the city required all this outside help so don't attack her
Novan for Life June 28, 2012 at 12:20 AM
John the superintendent was never mentioned in the article why bring her in it for, second why is it that WED seems to be taking most of the heat when in fact you look at this cities history, This city struggles to adopt or change it's structure to keep up with the constant changing world
Novan for Life June 28, 2012 at 12:22 AM
I agree DonQ
DonQ June 28, 2012 at 12:24 AM
The city and state required this outside help because Donoyon is incompetent and unable to do her job.
Memere June 28, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Let's start by eliminating your post. If you can't offer constructive ideas, perhaps you should not say anything at all. This recent post is utterly ridiculous.
Memere June 28, 2012 at 02:00 AM
The taxpayers elected the members of the school committee but we did not elect whoever would be the chairperson. It is the members of the school committee that elected the chair.
Novan for Life June 29, 2012 at 02:27 AM
believe me lisa she think she is i've talked to her she needs to go along with donlon and vimala,nadeau
Novan for Life June 29, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Does anyone ask the superintendent questions at school committe meetings? because i've been to a few and she seems not to want to get her hands dirty but lack of funding and a major spending problem tough luck
Tommy Tutone June 29, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Gee,if you're there,why don't you just ask a question?
Jerry June 30, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Wow, Robert actually observant of Dr. Annoyan? Yes, why don't you ask questions? You know you won't get a straight answer from her, because she doesn't have a clue. If you don't realize that yet, you need to go back to school, try Mount this time.
EssaySea June 30, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Gotta say I tend to agree with "Still Hope"....getting angry at Vimala (or anyone else) because she wants to get back to discussing how to improve education in Woonsocket as opposed to continually discussing the financial embarrassment doesn't make much sense to me. She just seems like someone who has a conscience in regards to actually doing her job as a member of the school committee. I mean, if this term were over and the school committee never got around to trying to improve the education, would they be allowed to say, "well, I was too worried about the deficit...figured the other stuff could wait"? Not in my book. Fiscal prudence is important, and they need to figure out what happened in order to prevent it from happening again, but at the end of the day, they're supposed to try to facilitate the delivery of the best damn education they can and that requires planning/discussion of things other than past mismanagements. This is particularly true if you're cash strapped like we are...you're gonna need some seriously creative solutions (which require planning) to deliver a decent service (education) on this budget (remember...its 20 million or so less than it was a handful of years ago...what service/product do you know of that gets cheaper over time? Not many). Anyway, the finances are a mess, but less "taxing" (pun intended :) ) on me than our graduation rate. We gotta improve the actual education we're delivering as well as the community's desire for it. IMHO.
Russell Archambault June 30, 2012 at 11:31 AM
@ essaysea; what does improving the education mean ? think about this . its nothing but bull. there cute little phrases to hide behind what they cant handle or accomplish.schools are like running a business. this has been the problem for so long that we now are fooled that its all about our little children. like any business children are products, just like soda or toilet paper to a grocery store. nothing more. using these harsh words. may make you think my point. bad or ignorant school committee members just like board members in business will make a business fail. some board members try to be sweet and need to be liked,because they want the position but have no sense to have a prospering business or prospering school system. trust me our little cute kids and the tax payers,are being short changed by some of these stupid members.
Novan for Life June 30, 2012 at 02:25 PM
i wasn't pointing that at anyone it was a general question. Hey Jerry if none is talking to you keep your sour comments to yourself!!
EssaySea June 30, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I think school's are a little different than a regular business, but I get your general point. On that note though, my point was that I don't see why discussing how to improve "the product" and the performance of "the business" instead of only discussing "last quarter's shortfall" is a bad thing. I'm not commenting on the capabilities of the committee as a whole (I suppose everyone has their own opinion in that regard), I just don't understand the anger towards the idea of shifting the focus back towards solutions to Woonsocket's educational challenges. I mean, to me, at the end of the day, the deficit is just another one of those challenges. It's a parameter (a very challenging one) in the "education equation" that the school committee,WED, RIDE, and the State now have to work with. They still need to be focused on end goals (performance wise) and how to get there. ...and I'm not sure if you were asking me or if it was rhetorical, but when I say "improve education" I'm referring to the ability of a school system to produce students who are knowledgable in language (preferably two or more), mathematics, the sciences, the arts and literature. Young adults who are well adjusted to the social sphere (confident, accept differences among people, well behaved, able to work both independently and collaboratively), prepared to enter the next phase of life (be that further education, a trade, the military etc) as well as understand that choice.
Russell Archambault June 30, 2012 at 03:03 PM
even with my comments, and just another way of viewing it, i agree with you on producing our product, children to be the best. i would do what i could and work hard to achieve, for our kids goals. in the end we all want the same.
John June 30, 2012 at 03:40 PM
@essaysea, All committee members have the authority to add subjects/topics of discussion to the agenda. If Vimala says she's tired of talking about finances why doesn't she add topics to the agenda they could discuss in addition to finances? She talks about having visions but never brings anything forth for discussion. As a matter of fact she has not brought anything to the table for three years. The last meeting was the first time I even heard her speak. She just climbed into bed with Nadeau and Donlon to get the union vote for her own political advancement.
John June 30, 2012 at 03:50 PM
@essaysea, Mrs. McGuire-Forcier and Mr. Roberts have been discussing how to generate funding and prevent future deficits not focused on the past deficit. Without the proper funding our little "products" in the school system will not have football, baseball, art, music or any of the other extra activities that keep young minds interested in school. How will the drop out rate be then??
DonQ June 30, 2012 at 04:00 PM
EssaySea Phongsavanah may have climbed in bed with Donlon and Nadeau to gain favor with the unions and further her political carreer, but if the taxpayers of Woonsocket have any common sense at all,, the political careers of these three union hacks will have gone as far as they are going to. Not only should they not be given the honor of ever serving on the School Committee, but they should never again be elected to any position in the City of Woonsocket. The taxpayers made the major mistake of voting for Marc Dubois for City Council before they found out what a mess he made of things as the former School Committee Chairman. He used his influence to get the whole mess kept under cover until after the election. He knew if this debacle was ever revealed before the election, he wouldn't stand a chance of being elected. The whole mess shows that he is not a person of trustworthy character. We can't give Phongsavanh, Donlon and Nadeau a chance to do the same thing.
Russell Archambault June 30, 2012 at 04:50 PM
@ john i had some hope with mr. roberts trying to move forward in correcting the school budget. taking out items to balance a budget just show's me how incompetent,and short sighted, they are to running this business. even talking or even thinking about this angers me. doesnt anybody learn from past mistakes.
EssaySea June 30, 2012 at 05:44 PM
@John and DonQ: I can't speak to your allegations regarding the unions/political advancement stuff...that feels like speculation to me, but the stuff she brought up at the last meeting ( Revamping the Strategic Plan and WISE. See: http://www.mywoonsocket.com/In_Their_Own_Words.html ) was pretty impressive. They sound like ideas borne out a desire to deliver the best education system she can. I hope to see more of that sort of action in the future regardless of who's on the committee.
EssaySea June 30, 2012 at 05:48 PM
I have no problems with trying to figure out how to generate funding, and I commend the chairwoman and Mr. Roberts for any efforts in that regard, but I still don't see the problem with exploring solutions which may be possible and/or necessary if the money doesn't come.
Novan for Life June 30, 2012 at 10:47 PM
well if thats the case, then the mayor and city council president have some explaining to do.
Jerry July 01, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Robert, my comments weren't sour, they were the truth, maybe you should do some research and realize you don't know what you are ever talking about. YOu protect the WED like they've done no wrong. Do your math if you can.


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