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.

Steve May 01, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Yeah right, and one day elephants will fly so we'll all have to wear construction helmets when we walk outside too!
Dawn Mackenzie May 01, 2012 at 03:50 PM
First of all it the Superintendent is working without a "deputy superintendent", and a "finance director". It is the finance director's job to make a balanced budget. I understand the need to get a budget but without the help she needs, it isn't fair to say she should fired. One of the three plans needs to be accepted in order to figure out the staffing, busing, and utilities. She didn't create this problem, the department has been underfunded for years.
Lilian May 01, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I agree that we will never see the day but if that crazy funding formula was truly fair we wouldn't be in this situation. Stop making the rich richer and the poor poorer. The state and federal government should have no choice but to help us out, too bad it probably won't happen. It's the ones in the state house that live in Barrington, Newport, and East Greenwich that have way too much power. My grandchildren deserve what the other kids are getting in those communities yet they don't even come close. Good thing they have teachers that at least care about their well-being. I cannot ever say anything bad about any of their teachers, they are hard-working and truly dedicated. Not sure what goes on at that McFee building but I know first-hand that my grandchildren are cared for and educated especially with what they are missing in the technology and other area.
Novan for Life May 01, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Well said dawn, I agree with that 100% this department is not only under funded but also micromanaged by the Nosey Mayor that the seniors voted in, oh can't forget the PATHETIC EXCUSE THAT WE CALL A CITY COUNCIL, So when the state and the city decide to fund education fairly then this department will thrive but until then it will sink and fail.
Doctor May 01, 2012 at 04:48 PM
The school administration building is a waste of taxpayer’s monies. City Hall has vacant rooms which could be utilized by the education department. What’s the problem, they do not want to be near the Mayor and City Council? Time to cut expenses and save money.
Eastie May 01, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I still want to know what the Mayor is up to when he tells the Council one thing over and over, but never follows through on what he says, ie meetings, cuts, etc. Does he want to be the receiver? The State would probably do that, put the person who put us here from his 20 years as Council Pres. and Mayor, let him have sole authority.
The Chorus May 01, 2012 at 05:43 PM
It would be acceptable for the Supt to request additional finance resource assistance if she needs it - I have heard nothing to indicate that she's asked. It's not acceptable for her to unilaterally decide to ignore the request and deadline. Like it or not, she works for the School Committee, not the other way around. The historical background on funding / underfunding has absolutely nothing to do with this.
Memere May 01, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Mr. Ward, I also am against using WMS Hamlet as an office building for Woonsocket Education. Both of those buildings were built as middle school and should remain middle schools. I can understand, however, that the McFee administration building on High St. is old and it may be a good idea to close it. Would it be possible to move those offices to City Hall if space is available?
Mike Kind May 01, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I wonder whether there are any conditions in the Federal funding grant for these structures which would prohibit this use and potentially cause us big problems.
Novan for Life May 01, 2012 at 07:30 PM
where is this idea coming from read the budget proposal and get the facts EASTIE
English first May 01, 2012 at 07:33 PM
if there is room in City hall the School Dept. should move in. There will be a lot more communication.
Yay yay May 01, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Of course it was on cue......hasn't everyone noticed the ties between S. Comm. and City Council??????? When I voted I thought I was voting for 2 different Committees, obviously NOT.
Meesh May 01, 2012 at 09:11 PM
The mayor doesn't have the credentials to be the receiver.
Joyce May 01, 2012 at 10:44 PM
We as teachers have given up a lot and also have taken on more work in school without extra pay or common planning time to do all of the new requirements. I really am sick and tired of the teachers taking the rap for the City's woes. As if it not enough the Adm. wants to move into the Hamlet building and use two other school to put fith and sixth graders who are they kidding this isn't about the students it's about them. If it were about the students there wouldn't be plan A, plan B, or plan C. they would do what is right for the students. I say get off your self appointed duffs and do the right thing. Let alone allowing the teacher's and students to hang by their fingertips wondering what the heck is going to happen and where will they be going. It is difficult enough to teach in the final days but with the added burden of lay offs, what school will I be going to, will I get paid. Ther is only so much a person can take and I for one have had enough. Get with it and do something for the kids, do the right thing.
Concerned May 01, 2012 at 10:48 PM
It is time to STOP blaming Dr. Donoyan for all that has gone wrong within the school department! She has inherited this problem. Think about it, what person in their right mind would want to come to this city if they just fire her. Dr. Donoyan is trying her best, but she is continuously put off by the school committee as they keep table-ling all the major issue such as calling the teachers back. We still have no teachers for the 2012-2013 school year. Instead of complaining about what Dr. Donoyan is projecting, come forward and present reasonable options that could work. What the city has done in the past has not worked its time to look at NEW options. At least she is trying. What have you done to help solve the problem, besides pay higher taxes?
MAE May 01, 2012 at 11:46 PM
By then Lillian, it will be too late...
Mike Kind May 01, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Dr. Donoyan AND the School Committee are not completely at fault for this mess. Reduced and unfair state funding are the major cause. However, Dr. Donoyan AND the School Committee are responsible for the following: 1. Not screaming loud and long for all to hear that the budget was obviously inadequate. 2. Allowing a situation to persist in which only ONE person could tell us the status of the budget- against every sound principle of management and accounting 3. Delaying decisive action to put someone in place who could tell us the status of the budget.
MAE May 02, 2012 at 12:01 AM
exactly...How dare she even think to concider using the new middle schools for her offices...those buildings were voted for by the residents for the MIDDLE SCHOOLERS and should be used solely for THAT purpose. Uprooting all the kids at Bernon is...stupid. Move all those kids to fit fifth graders that should be at the middle school? Are you serious, Dr. Donoyon? There is NOTHING wrong with McFee...yeah it's crowded but if the finance dept goes to City Hall's empty rooms then I guess McFee will be less crowded. I have been in McFee lately...it's FINE, Dr Donoyon. You stay put and start doing what is right for the kids and the teachers and staff...you want a new building to work in, you build and pay for it!
Steve May 02, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Mike, not only that, but knowing full well that any shortcomings in the WED's budget will come directly from the tax payers of Woonsocket, to me, is totally unbelievable and irresponsible! She should have been shouting through a mega-phone! In her slide deck attached, she's estimating a budget of between 70 to 74 million dollars, where as their budget for 2012 was approximately 60 million. Granted, there were and are state reductions, but where does she think the extra 10 - 14 million dollars will come from? Is there a magic state Genie that's gonna drop 14 million dollars into the Woonsocket's coffers? She is delusional at best, and from what it appears to me, totally out of her league when it comes to solving these issues that are now in it's fifth year. How can one group cause so much pain for one city and it's residents and still be allowed to collect paychecks on a regular basis? Rather than a "TBD" in her 2013 projections, maybe the WED should write a "TBD" on her next paycheck!
MAE May 02, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Yes, she may be trying and may be butting her head against a brick wall...perhaps she should submit the budget that is on hand without the changes. Maybe the CC and SC with Fontaine should all sit down together and work on it, TOGETHER. It isn't just ONE persons problem. As far as redistricting, Leave McFee alone, and get the schools straightened out with classes and staff. Closing one or two small buildings is NOT going to reduce the deficit that much. It's just plain WRONG to uproot students i.e.Bernon and put administration in classrooms that were built for the students needs. I am just so feed up with the self serving administrations in thiscity...we can save millions by REGIONALIZING...front line teachers, staff, and infastructure stays the same...Top heavy weight hits the road. If jobs should be cut, start there!
Mike Kind May 02, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Mae, you are correct that regionalization would address many issues. One challenge, though-which of our neighbors would want to forma partnership with us. North Smithfield? Cumberland? See what I mean?
David T May 02, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Could someone please catch me up and tell me where this rumor came from that Dr. D. is planning to move into Hamlet or Villa Nova? By the way, this year the school is under utilized by about 500, meaning there's room for about 500 more students. Both buildings have a total capacity of 1760 students, that 880 each. This year the enrollment is about 1258. Are you saying she wants to move out 600 plus students? I seriously doubt that Frankie, but I could be wrong.
David T May 02, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Let’s see…The SC was handed 3 choices last week. They opted to table the vote. WED had Dina Dutremble, B&E, et.al untangling the mess of a budget during the last 5 months and they haven’t produced a budget. I believe Dina's job is done and now B&E is trying to develop the next budget, a process that should have been started a year ago by a real WED Chief Finance Director and an Assistant Director along with a Superintendent. However, last year we only had Stacey Busy, who as we all know now was in way over her head and being directed by a now long gone Gerardi. Now Donoyan had to start from scratch only a few months ago, doing a job that should have been well begun a year ago. The Mayor, Council and SC have all been aware that the budget was going to be late and have, I believe up until last night, been sort of giving Donoyan more time, week after week. Donoyan was screwed before she got here, the SC decided to table the vote on which direction the budget should go and the Council seems to be doing what the Mayor did last year, which was to start with the harsh rhetoric. Last year that resulted in a $59,000,000 fake budget. The state slashed our funding, giving the towns more money than they needed. I don't expect they’d do any better.
David T May 02, 2012 at 04:32 AM
As I've stated, the state caused this budget shortfall by underfunding us for years and giving the towns more than they needed, while forcing us to follow expensive mandates, mostly unique to urbans. We did call the state, remember. They told us to go pound sand!
David T May 02, 2012 at 04:59 AM
This is again causing such a headache. I do agree with someone in here that Donoyan should stop trying to be so clever with this confusing set of options. I love the idea of full day K, I would even be okay with some reconfiguring of the schools, closing a school and the Mcfee building, to save money. But not this year. We just need a simple plan today. I do think however she was screwed before she got here. I also don't think her budget should be like Gerardi's last year which was way off. Did anyone one of our elected officials last year stop to ask Gerardi how $59,000,000 was magically going to replace a budget which was, what $70,000,000 for the previous years? One of them might have, I forget now. The point is Donoyan has 3 options on the table costing between $70,000,00 and $78,000,000. The $78,000,000 being the one with no changes. The school committee needs to pick one or reject all of them. At least they all seems to be realistic numbers based on what the actual spending has been for the last few years. If they reject them all and fire her, she can tell the people at her next job interview that she did her best and presented realistic budget options to Woonsocket and still be able to say none of Woonsocket's deficit was her fault and she will probably land on her feet. And we will be without a superintendent again. Well there's always the War Monument rally to look forward to people. Let's enjoy our coming together on something positive.
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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