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School Committee Still Working On Draft Budget

Members sorted though line items totaling at least $66 million Monday.

The Woonsocket School Committee was still sorting though a byzantine draft budget Monday night line by line, with no estimate on when they'd finish.

"This still needs a lot more work," said School Committee Chair Anita Forcier-Mcguire. 

The Committee began with $64 million on Saturday, adding, among other expenses, a $550,000 line item for the capital budget and two $89,000 school principal positions. On Monday, the Committee continued to add to the request, with the biggest line item a $1.4 million expense for retirement funding.

Those additions alone would put the budget request at $66,128,000, but Forcier-McGuire and Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan wouldn't estimate the final figure, insisting that the draft budget was still a work in progress.

The Committee didn't vote on the draft budget, but Forcier-McGuire said she would give the City Council a working number of $64 million with a list of the larger additions they'd made since Saturday, on the advice of Donoyan.

"I think it's only in the best interest of the city that they (the city council) go to the General Assembly tomorrow with something," Donoyan said during the review session. Tuesday at 2 p.m., she said, the house is scheduled to consider legislation authorizing the city to issue a supplemental tax bill. The senate has already approved it.

Forcier-McGuire said they'd wait for the final figures before they sent the official draft budget to the city council, however. "We need to give Walter Edge (of B&E Consulting) more time to go through this," she said. She said she couldn't predict when they'd have a final number.

Tom Sweeney of B&E Consulting also wasn't willing to estimate when the Committee would be finished reviewing the budget. "They've got a lot of work to do," he said.

Among the items debated tonight was the need for a comptroller in addition to a Finance Director, which is already budgeted at $106,000, Donoyan said. "You really need two people to do the job," Sweeney advised. The comptroller's job - to manage the general ledger - is an important one, he said. The Committee resolved to fund the position, but have not decided for how much, Donoyan said.

Facilities Director Peter Fontaine also discussed personnel reductions with the Committee. This year the school department has cut five custodian positions and two facilities positions from the budget, a total of $300,000.

Fontaine also noted that the $500,000 line item for a new heating system for Bernon Heights School included not just the boiler, but the entire system inlcuding pipes. "If you just do the boiler, it'll be a failure someplace else," in the heating system, he said.

Moments before the meeting ended, Forcier-Mcguire said she'd just been in touch with City Council President John Ward about the state of the draft budget, and the Committee's need for more time. "He told me to do what I feel comfortable with," she said.

Tired Tax Payer May 15, 2012 at 03:36 PM
There are laws regarding teacher to student ratios. My sons rather large kindergarten teacher can't get up to dicipline kids as it is...I couldn't imagine if she had 10 more kids.
English first May 15, 2012 at 04:07 PM
J Head. i think the teachers took a pay cut one or two years ago. They also started paying some of their medical costs.
brendalee hartland mcgovern May 15, 2012 at 04:42 PM
a : of, relating to, or characterized by a devious and usually surreptitious manner of operation <a Byzantine power struggle> sur·rep·ti·tious/ˌsərəpˈtiSHəs/ Adjective: Kept secret, esp. because it would not be approved of. Synonyms: secret - furtive - stealthy - clandestine - underhand typical Woonsocket style
Richard N. Piette Sr. May 15, 2012 at 10:22 PM
How about one principal and vice for all of our schools????? We really are not that big a city!!! Give the custodians back thier small paying jobs. How many incumbants are you going to re-ellect?????...000000?!
Rob Borkowski May 16, 2012 at 12:17 PM
brendalee hartland mcgovern - I actually selected Byzantine intending this meaning: "5. ( sometimes lowercase ) complex or intricate: a deal requiring Byzantine financing."

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