Council, School Committee: Superintendent Must Present Budget

The council president has called for the superintendent's ouster if a budget — due March 1 — isn't submitted soon.

Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan's failure to draft a budget has exhausted the patience of the School Committee and the City Council, and may bring state intervention closer for the city.

"Very much," Mayor Leo Fontaine said when asked if the situation makes the intervention of Rosemary Gallogly, the state's director of revenue, more likely. On Thursday, the state-appointed receiver of Central Falls, Robert Flanders, noted the decision to intervene in a city's finances rests with Gallogly. Two big criteria the state considers before intervening in a city's management, Flanders said, are a drop in its bond rating, and an inability to balance its budget.

"The superintendent, even up until Saturday, has indicated that she will not be planning to develop the budget until the School Committee makes a decision and gives her a direction as to which of the three options they want her to move in," City Council President John Ward said. The school department budget was due March 1, more than 60 days ago, he said.

Members of the School Committee were not at the meeting to discuss the situation, Ward said, because they were still at Donoyan's presentation of her options to parents at the . (See the attached presentation.)

Members of the School Committee also expressed frustration with the superintendent, Ward said, and they have scheduled a Thursday session to instruct Donoyan to draft a budget. Ward said he had drafted his own resolution urging the School Committee to instruct Donoyan to draft the budget.

"Should the superintendent fail to comply with the order of the School Committee, the City Council demands that termination proceedings against the superintendent be immediately undertaken," he recited from his resolution.

Ward said the General Assembly is asking the city for their budget plan, and they can't provide one without the school department's budget, which ties up figuring out how much state aid the city will receive.

Also, "Quite frankly, without a school budget, I don't know how much time Rosemary Gallogly is going to give us," Ward said.

"The only people with authority over her (Donoyan) at the moment are the School Committee," Ward said. As if on cue, School Committee Chairwoman Anita McGuire-Forcier entered the room moments later. Ward explained they had just been speaking about Donoyan's refusal to present a budget for the school department.

"I know you needed the budget," McGuire-Forcier said.

"Two weeks ago," Ward replied.

"When's the latest possible date?" McGuirie-Forcier asked.

"May first," Ward said.

Forcier asked for a little more time, and Ward relented, saying the council could wait until May 11. "With the data available, it can't be that hard," Ward said.

After the meeting, Maguire-Forcier confirmed she and other School Committee members were out of patience with Donoyan, and would demand a budget from her on Thursday.

Frankie May 02, 2012 at 10:29 AM
On two of her "plans", she would move half of the 5/6 academy to Bernon....there is plenty of room to house all of the city's 5th and 6th graders in Hamlet. There is no educationally sound reason to move half of the children out of there. She is planning on closing McFee, where the financial people would go to City Hall, and the rest of the office people will take space in Hamlet.
MAE May 02, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Yes, therein lies the question....but they are part of the whole (Rhode Island) and the government forces us to deal with their rules whether we like them or not...so...maybe it needs to be...like it or not. It would not only be in the best interest of WED but also the state itself. The whole state is in financial distress. Drastic changes need to start now all around this fair state.
John May 02, 2012 at 02:27 PM
The School Committee tabled the vote for the budget because Dr. Donoyan has not provided something they can vote on. She has supplied 3 menu options not budgets. How can one be expected to vote on a budget without seeing the line item expenses for each. She needs to show/prove where the cost savings are in each of the 3 proposals not say "trust me". I think it is smart of the committee not to trust the superintendent, look where that's got them in the past.
John May 02, 2012 at 02:43 PM
David, Don't forget, the city council took Geradi and the school committee to court last year to make them fit the budget into 59M. The School Committee went to the City Council and told them it was impossible but the Council did not care. Remember the quote from VP Dan Gendron of the Council a couple of months ago, "Even a blind man could see this was a fictitious budget". If he knew it was fictitious why did he and all the others vote to approve it?? Donoyan handed the School Committee menu options not budgets. She had no line items to back these up, no details and couldn't even answer where the cost difference was coming from in each option. She needs to provide an itemized line item budget for them to vote on, not a promise and a "trust me".
joe May 02, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Dr. Donoyan walked into a huge mess and has presented plans. Are all painless? Of course not, but they are viable options. All superintendents perpetually juggle the 5 Bs (budget, bussing, buildings, bureaucrats, and bullxxxx). Instead of complaining, why don't those spewing vitriolic venom help her? If she is let go, what's your funding plan then (in addition to the legal ramifications?)


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