Budget Commission OKs Filling 29 School Posts, Tables Three Positions

Curriculum director waits on job description, IT posts await discussion.


The Woonocket Budget Commission gave Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan the go-ahead to fill 29 open positions already in the budget Thursday, but told her to wait on three.

Following the approval of Woonsocket Schools' new Financial Controller, Donoyan asked the Commission for authority to transfer people within the district to fill open positions, so long as those positions were already approved within the Woonsocket Schools budget.

"These are not new positions, at all," Donoyan said.

Commission member Dina Dutremble asked Donoyan for more advance notice of the school committee's actions, particularly regarding hiring decisions. 

Commission member John Ward said he thought that was a good idea, but noted that twice a month, the School Committee will have met the day prior to the Budget Commission's Thursday meeting, which would hamper their ability to provide advance notice.

"Not necessarily, John," Dutremble said. She pointed out that School Committee members receive packets about the upcoming meeting's agenda the Friday before their Wednesday meetings, which could also be sent to the Budget Commission.

Budget Commission Advisor David Eaton said he could arrange to get the School Committee packets to the panel.

Budget Commission Chairman Bill Sequino told Donoyan she had the authority to fill approved positions as long as they were funded by grant money, but, "We want to see any new position supported by Woonsocket tax dollars." 

The Commission approved allowing Donoyan to fill all but three of the 32 positions she asked permission to hire for. They tabled a decision on hiring a curriculum director because a requirement set for that position, a job description, had not been delivered to the Budget Commission. They also tabled hiring an IT position and a technology specialist position for further discussion. 

Interim School Finance Director Ralph Malafronte expressed confusion over the rationale behind the process for hiring on already-budgeted positions. He said the positions were in the already-approved budget and had also been approved by the School Committee. He said that previously, under those conditions, their understanding was that they needed to inform the Budget Commission, not wait for their final approval.

Malafronte said that on the IT position, the School Department had already hired a vendor do do the job while they waited to fill the position. Sequino said that was information the Budget Commission should have had ahead of time. The School Department has the authority to approve spending under $15,000.

Malafronte said the Commission's interest in holding judgement on specific positions was confusing, and it would be easier to bring all positions to be filled before the Commission.

"Do me a favor? Think on it, and come back next week," Sequino asked Malafronte.

Larry Hoovah September 24, 2012 at 08:37 PM
"positions are already in the approved budget" is that the same budget that was approved last year but ended up being 10 million dollars short?
Jerry September 24, 2012 at 11:35 PM
I really thought the budget commission would make a difference in Woonsocket, especially on the school side since they have always been the problem. But, after 4 months and absolutely nothing changing, I am totally disgusted...I thought the budget commission would immediately freeze everything on the school side, NEVER HAPPENED...consolidating positions to save money, NEVER HAPPENED.. finally hiring a controller when they could of asked Mr. Bruce to help out temporarily, NEVER HAPPENED....so the school department's budget has always been overspent, and still nothing has changed. same problems, different administration, SAME PROBLEMS,and it seems as though, NOTHING STILL WILL CHANGE....
David T September 25, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Your right! If the Mount can teach kids for just $11,500 a year, plus whatever money they get from donations and the diocese, then that's all we should spend on the public school kids! Not a penny more.
John September 25, 2012 at 01:58 PM
David, The kids in Woonsocket public schools aren't getting close to 11,500 a year spent on their education. Maybe in some of the richer suburban communities that much is spent per pupil but everyone knows they deserve so much more than our children?
Novan for Life September 25, 2012 at 02:11 PM
oh really so the city or the state have nothing to do with this? they cant freeze everything what are on? its WEDS fault that theyve been cooperative with the budget commission and are on the right track! Hey jerry what about the citys financial problems or do you not want to hear it?
Novan for Life September 25, 2012 at 02:14 PM
no thats the $66.6mil budget that was approved by the budget commission with help of RIDE and the Superintendent along with the School Committee
Rob Borkowski (Editor) September 25, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Novan for life: What financial problems are you referring to? From my profile on Lisa Baldelli-Hunt ( http://patch.com/A-xBhx ): "Finance Director Thomas Bruce said the city has, in fact, operated with surplus for the last two years, a fact that is backed up in finanicial reports posted on the city's website, and repeated in Moody's ratings reports on city finances and at Budget Commission meetings." Please explain your comment and provide links.
Simple solution September 25, 2012 at 03:12 PM
All of the filled positions are being filled through grant money and not Woonsocket tax dollars mr. Hoovah
David T September 25, 2012 at 03:23 PM
I know John. I'm just tired of people like Jerry thinking that there are any cuts to be made or we should not hire enough teachers. Any my wise-alec remark about mount's per pupil cost goes to what people like Jerry really think, which is if we got rid of unions, the cost of education will go down, which us not true. The mount costs $11,500, plus whatever the mount gets from other sources. That's not cheap and they can't hold a candle to WED as far as taking in special needs kids.
John September 25, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Rob, Of all people you should know the City's surplus or statement of a surplus isn't real!! They shorted their pension obligation by 9 million dollars this year and then claim they have a 300 thousand dollar surplus. If they did what they were legally obligated to do and put 10 million in the pension fund (every year) they would have an 8.7 million dollar deficit on the city side for this past year alone. Remember the school department had a deficit of 2.7 and 7 million respectively but their pension obligation is up to date. Maybe they should have shorted their pension fund and declared a surplus.
Novan for Life September 25, 2012 at 05:23 PM
rob look at pst articles stating this fiscal yr the city has a $7mil budget gap and will ballon to $15mil by april
RBeau September 25, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Uh ?? Novan? I'm pretty sure that the "shorfall" youre talking about was the money that they had to pay over to the schools to cover the school's "new budget" It was not for increases or shortages in the city budget. You can see the budget on the citty's website.
Still Hope September 26, 2012 at 01:08 PM
I'm pretty sure Rob is correct. The city has shown surpluses the last couple years, as seen on the city website. The pensions are being paid out as scheduled. There is no obligation for the city to allocate a specific amount of money toward the pension funds. They are only obligated to make sure it gets paid. That is a major fundemental difference. To argue that the city can't claim a surplus due to "what you think they should allocate" is just bad accounting. Balance sheets are based on real money, not hypotheticals. There are many options on how to handle the pension funds. A supplemental tax, a state takeover, bond issuance all are viable alternatives. None these take away from the fact that the city shows a surplus on paper. Here Rob, have a link. http://woonsocket.patch.com/articles/woonsockets-pension-problem
DR September 26, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Not to change the subject,but the Budget Commission should look into the cost of rebuilding the existing water treatment plant instead of building a new one.I feel we do not need a larger plant that will be obsolete in 25years and will have to be replaced again-we do not need to supply water to the State of Rhode Island.Remember who has to pay the usage fees.
Sly September 26, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Another great thing has happened to Woonsocket,Stewart HealthCare is backing out of purchasing Landmark.It comes as no surprise to me.Thanks to Lifspan and BC THEY MADE IT TO TOUGH AND HAD THERE WAY.
RonW September 26, 2012 at 04:36 PM


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