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Woonsocket School Committee Asks State To Take Over Schools

Letter to Education Commissioner Deborah Gist says WED can't balance budget.

 

The Woonsocket School Committee has asked the RI Department of Education to take over, citing their inability to balance the budget while educating the city's students.

The Committee voted 4 to 1 to send the letter, according to Turnto10.com, during their Wednesday night meeting at , 60 Florence Dr., and the state education department has reported it's ready to work with them. After Wednesday's Budget Commission hearing, RI Director of Revenue Rosemary Booth Gallogly said RIDE was cognizant of the Woonsocket School system's troubles. "They obviously are concerned about events in Woonsocket," she said.

Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan told the Woonsocket Budget Commission yesterday that the while the school department recommended asking 54 teachers back from layoffs, the schools do not have the money to pay those teachers. Though the department faces a $10 million deficit this year, the teachers would be paid from next year's budget, which faces a potential $7 million shortfall as well. City Finance Director Thomas Bruce said the Budget Commission will balance that budget.

But school officials were not confident they could run effectively on what will remain to them, particularly with the defeat of the supplemental tax bill Tuesday. During Wednesday's Budget Commission meeting, Donoyan told the panel their efforts to call the 54 teachers back assumed the supplemental tax would help address next year's shortfall.

The letter, WPRI.com reports, states the school department cannot both balance the budget and educate the district's 6,000 students.

Doctor June 14, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Every city and town in this state should start considering the consolidation of schools and the creation of a regionalized state run system of education.
Baywatch June 14, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Why?
Doctor June 14, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Because indirectly, the process has already been started in the state with the take over of the Central Falls Schools. Who will be next after Woonsocket? It can happend to any city or town.
Doctor June 14, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Because indirectly, the process has already been started in the state with the take over of the Central Falls Schools. Who will be next after Woonsocket? It can happend to any city or town.
Mike June 14, 2012 at 02:01 PM
The system is so dysfunctional that it needs to be scrapped and rebuilt with accountability built in--that means no self-serving public sector unions! In the meantime, let's institute a voucher system, give parents a choice, and reintroduce competition. Private schools, especially parochial schools, have consistently outperformed public schools. Why do we trap our kids in third-rate schools?
Dagny Taggart June 14, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I totally agree "Doctor". I have been asking for this for the past few years but it has fallen on "deaf ears".
Dagny Taggart June 14, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Mike, Our family has been strong supporters of the voucher system for over 20 years. Your post is like music to my ears. Introducing competition weeds out the dead wood and offers our children a better education. We need to find more "champions" of the voucher system within our state government.
John June 14, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Don't think that the State taking over will correct anything. The Central Falls School system has been run by the state for years (years before they filed for bankruptcy) and what the state will not tell you is that they have a School deficit of 5 million dollars this year. They run it and don't fund it appropriately.
Baywatch June 14, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Wouldn't consolidating schools create their own set of other issues? I have imagine that transportation costs would track with any potential savings costs, no? What about enrollment issues? As time passes the schools with the best average grades wil be in highest demand, then what a lottery system? is it god for the entire school life or does the student need to re-enroll each year, potentially moving from school to school each year? Not sure if I share the vision here.... It sounds good, until I begin to think about the logistical issues.
SickofRI June 14, 2012 at 02:49 PM
There is absolutely no reason for this state to have 36 individual school systems with 36 superintendants and all the nonsense that accompanies it. I have lived in other states (midwest) where there is regionalization and there have never been fiscal issues on half the level I have seen while living in this state. It is beyond ridiculous. This state needs to get over its nepotism, dispose of the unions, and move on. Until that happens, we will continue to see the same thing happen over and over again.
John June 14, 2012 at 03:16 PM
A voucher system can be tricky. How do you fairly determine what child gets to go to which school? Do all the children from poor communities get forced into the worst schools without sports and after school programs while the children from wealthy communities go to schools with all the bells and whistles?
Doctor June 14, 2012 at 03:32 PM
The regionalization system is already in place in Woonsocket and is working. We have our vocational/technical school regionalized with our neighbors. Even our catholic school system is regionalized.
Chester June 14, 2012 at 03:35 PM
I agree that RI should have tackled regionalization a long time ago. The problem we will run into is that the suburban parents will not want their kids going to school with the urban kids. It's a shame, but that will be the biggest sticking issue with any attempts at regionalization. At limited attempt might work...say North Smithfield, Smithfield and Burrillville, but I strongly doubt voters in Cumberland or Lincoln would approve regionalization with Central Falls or Woonsocket.
Dagny Taggart June 14, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Thank you "SickofRI", I am in agreement AND I have seen regionalization work very well elsewhere. Our city, state and local governments should be studying "best practices and principals" for a blueprint of how it works and what works best. I think we know that many cities and towns are having trouble making their school budgets and might even welcome a chance to regionalize and as far as logistics it can be managed easily. Mount St. Charles has kids bussed in from all over the state. There are plenty of "models" out there to prove that this can work well. As far as a voucher system being "tricky" John..it can be if not done correctly. No one is "forced" , it is a matter of choice and just like all else in this world those who act expediently will be rewarded. Now, here is the funny thing about the voucher system....the worst schools lose, the best schools win. It is the weeding out of the worst just like any business model. You spend your tax dollars where you see the most value for your child and those schools that are not of value will have to either "step up to the plate" or close their doors. It is a win for the parents and a win for the students. Why should anyone be forced to send their child to an underperforming school when they pay good tax dollars for their child's education? As I have said, there are plenty of successful, working models out there to use as a blueprint.
Dagny Taggart June 14, 2012 at 05:21 PM
And now my question is......how many O's are in Woonsocket and does the author of this story live in this town?....go to school here?.....just wondering. See heading above. "Government, Schools Wooonsocket School Committee Asks State To Take Over Schools Letter to Education Commissioner Deborah Gist says WED can't balance budget. By Rob Borkowski "
John June 14, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Dagny, You mention Mount St. Charles having children bused in from all over the state, did you know the Public School System (WED) is responsible to pay for that bussing? Another state mandate!
John June 14, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Dagny, You mention Mount St. Charles having children bused in from all over the state, did you know the Public School System (WED) is responsible to pay for that bussing? Another state mandate!
Dagny Taggart June 14, 2012 at 06:31 PM
These kids are coming in buses from each of the towns and cities, I am simply saying that the program exists and with vouchers it can be utilized as it is already in place rather than adding more cost to the measure. Try being in my situation, I am a taxpayer and have been a taxpayer in Woonsocket for many years. My daughter went to Mount St. Charles but we were not allowed to use the Woonsocket buses to transport her to school. They expected her to walk from Winter St. to Mount , all school year long. We PAID for the buses and never got to use one, not once! Now....explain that one to me. They said "you live to close to the school". Have you ever walked from Cold Spring Park to Mount???? In the snow???? Along roads you wouldn't let a teenage girl walk alone? Seriously? The buses are in place for these kids already should we be so fortunate to have a voucher system.
John June 14, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Public School children only get a bus under certain conditions. The handicapped get buses, the High School kids that are more than 2.5 miles from the School, Middle School kids 1.5 miles from the School, Elementary kids more than 1 mile from the School. Do you think the Mount Children should have different rules when the WED is paying for the buses? Are you saying Public School children can walk but Mount students shouldn't have to? Mount gets a lot of tuition for the kids in their school...maybe they could supply a bus for your child?
John June 14, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Dagny, You speak of regionalization and budget cuts but you don't realize the busing in Woonsocket is extremely limited to keep costs down? Or is this a case of the "School Department needs to cut" but not when it comes to the services affecting my children?
Dagny Taggart June 14, 2012 at 09:43 PM
No John, That is not what I am saying at all. I am saying taxpayers should get the right to buses regardless where their kids go to school. I don't know where you got the other ideas about unfair treatment but I apologize if my post was unclear. I don't know what the contract is for Mount and the school buses but I am pretty darn sure they aren't free. I believe the kids who live in the towns where their parents pay taxes have a right to the school bus and should not be excluded just because they go to a private school that their parents pay dearly for and do without many things in an effort to afford. As it stands I carpooled both my children along with neighborhood kids in North Smithfield and Woonsocket since 1997.
Dagny Taggart June 14, 2012 at 09:46 PM
So John, On your second post please refer to my first repsonse..and I quote you "but not when it comes to services affecting my children". Clearly it did affect my children, we didn't get those services. In terms of regionalization there would be several systems joining in the shared expense of busing.
Still Hope June 14, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Regionalization of schools doesn't work in such integrated areas like parts of RI. In Woonsocket, for instance, the disparity in math proficiency between whites and black is remarkable in the higher grades. Something to the tune of 35% vs 10% proficient. This means that urban schools are already unable to reach out to blacks. What do you think will happen when you throw even more whites into the mix from regionalization? You think blacks will get the focus they need? I am singling out blacks for illustrative purposes, but the same applies to cities that have a disproportion of other minorities, learning disabilities, social structures, etc. It would be funny to see all the white boys from Div II Cumberland try to make the basketball team over the black kids from Div I Woonsocket.
Rob Borkowski (Editor) June 14, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Dagny - Thanks for pointing out that typo. I don't live in Woonsocket, nor do I go to school there. Where I live shouldn't affect my ability to spell - but the typo was inexcusable and embarrassing, even so.
Ruth Carreiro June 15, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Public schools have been falling short for decades. Teaching was a vocation not a career. Money has not improved the quality of teaching. Teachers should be on salary like the rest of workers who are in the present income bracket. Teachers should work as many hours as needed to assist the weakest student.

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