Parents rally at City Hall ahead of school budget hearing

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It may not have been as sunny as hoped, but that didn’t stop about 100 people from rallying in front of City Hall on Monday afternoon ahead of budget talks set for Friday night. Mayor Scott Avedisian’s budget proposes a hike in funding for the schools – about $165 million from last year’s $161 million – and Superintendent Philip Thornton’s $167 million budget requests an additional $4.8 million from the city.

Stephanie Shelton, newly inducted PTA President at Norwood School, said Thursday that the goal of the rally wasn’t necessarily to target anyone, but rather to keep up awareness of school situations and to remind city and school officials that parents and students are still “watching.”

“We want education to be a priority in Warwick. As taxpayers, we demand that we invest in our schools. At the same time, we fully expect administration to spend responsibly and invest in education,” she wrote in an email announcing the rally. "We need books, we need capital improvements and we need teachers. We do not need a PR firm, we do not need attorneys, and we don't need more administrators. We need to fix Warwick schools."

At Monday’s rally, Shelton reiterated what spending she’d like to see prioritized.

“I get that they’re trying to get a bond and that it will be a year or two before that can go into effect,” she said. “I’d just like to see the priority of the spending in some way directed to what’s essential to education and not for wrestling mats or football uniforms or gym floors.”

Teachers Union President Darlene Netcoh thought it was significant that parents organized the rally and that a large amount of people showed up despite the inclement weather.

“I think it’s significant that parents organized this event because they are so concerned about conditions in our schools and about having an appropriate teaching staff and about the communication,” said Netcoh.

Added Community Outreach Educational Committee Chair Nathan Cornell, “The parents are rightfully upset – I’m glad the parents are doing something about it. They’re trying to bring awareness to these issues because these are serious safety issues which are afflicting our schools and they need to be solved.”

Netcoh acknowledged a rocky road ahead, saying it’s “right” for the City Council to question the school department.

“I think it’s always good when the city supports its schools. I am concerned about the school department and the way it misuses funds, which has made the City Council naturally skeptical of them and if they do get the funds, then I hope they use them for what they’re intended,” Netcoh said.

Like Netcoh and Shelton, Cornell wanted to see the money spent “appropriately” if granted.

“I just want the money to be applied where they say it will be applied, and I think that’s where it will be difficult with the City Council…they have seen in the past how the school department says they’re going to use money for a certain thing and then uses it elsewhere,” he said.

Shelton felt unsure of the budget’s chances.

“I really hope that it goes through. I’d like to see an increase in spending for education,” she said. “I hope that the City Councilors are paying attention to what the people of Warwick are saying. I know there’s a lot of animosity between the… City Council and the School Committee and I just don’t know how it’s going to go.”

In a statement, Thornton clarified differences between spending discussions, saying “There have been many discussions in Warwick on the need to repair and upgrade the school buildings. This conversation is separate and apart from the operating budget being discussed currently in the City.”

“Mayor Avedisian's recommended budget provides for a 3 million dollar increase in the Warwick School Department operating budget,” he said, reiterating that “there has been agreement between Mayor Avedisian and myself that 2.4 million of that amount would be set aside for the settlement of the teacher's contract.”

Thornton noted district “improvements” such as “1 to 1 computers for all high school students next year, joining our middle school students which went 1 to 1 this year” as well as “Interactive flat panel displays for all high school classrooms, also joining the middle school which was completed this year.”

“Mayor Advedisian, City Council President Solomon, and School Committee Chair Furtado and I have discussed potential plans for a series of meetings to delve into the capital needs of the schools, (the roofs, windows and boilers, etc.) with a goal of putting forth a bond in the fall of 2018 to the voters,” he concluded.

Budget talks before the City Council begin this Friday at 5 p.m.

Comments

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richardcorrente

Don't be fooled fellow taxpayers.

If the City Council passes the school budget, it doesn't mean the teachers will get one penny more. The money goes to the School Committee (SC). What they spend it on is a carefully kept secret and according to Warwicks' charter no one can question them, "once they receive the money". Here's what we do know. They haven't spent the last BILLION DOLLARS of taxpayers money (since 2009) very well at all! And they are not forthcoming about their spending habits!! Not one bit.

I propose we do question them BEFORE THEY RECEIVE THE MONEY! I propose that we have an independent audit from an outside source, before we give the SC a dime. Our teachers deserve a contract. They have been waiting on it for almost three years! The number of teachers keeps decreasing while the number of SC administrators keeps increasing, and by almost the exact same percentages. I don't support this budget without an impartial audit. I DO SUPPORT one after an impartial audit. The budget is just about the same amount each year and our student population has dropped from 17,000 to less than 9,000. And the teachers don't have a new contract? Where is the money going SC??

Warwicks' cost of educating each student is now higher than Beverly Hills School District. ($17,778 vs. $14,334)

Our teachers deserve better treatment. Our students deserve much better treatment and our taxpayers, the ones that are paying the tab, deserve better treatment. An independent audit will insure "better treatment".

Happy Memorial Day weekend.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, May 25
ThatGuyInRI

When will Corrente realize that the people of Warwick have rejected his point of view?

The campaign is over, you lost.

PLEASE stop filling the comment section of countless articles with your personal political drivel. Please.

Friday, May 26
richardcorrente

Dear ThatGuyInRI,

I didn't lose.

I gained the trust and support of 13,278 taxpayers and I didn't accept one check, not one check from any Political Action Committee (PAC). I got my support the old fashion way, I earned it! I campaigned for over 700 days in a row and I EARNED IT!

Scott Avedisian, in contrast, "bought" his support through the PAC's receiving a whopping 237 checks from 237 PAC's! That means he now is indebted to 237 Political Action Committees while I am indebted to the taxpayers and ONLY the taxpayers. (that includes you!). Now, those PAC's want big favors from Scott that I would never have owed them. Without "purchasing" the votes from the PAC's that he did, I honestly believe I would have crushed him. In other words, if it was a fair contest, no PAC's involved, he loses. And he loses big.

ThatGuyInRI, 2018 is around the corner. I think I might even get your vote. Or would you rather have a career politician who raises taxes every year for 18 years in a row?

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, May 26
Thecaptain

Rick,

Your delusions get more and more grand with each passing day. Waving on a corner every day while you live tax free and screw the rest of the taxpaying citizens is not campaigning. You know nothing about the structure of this city as was evident when you were humiliated by children at the so called "debate". if you think in 2018 your failure to pay taxes, your financial disaster, your 16 civil litigation's against you, will go away, you are sadly mistaken. I wait patiently to hear you utter one sentence of sense, but I will be waiting a very long time. I will probably wait even longer than it took you to pay your child support. What was that ? 9 years i believe by the court documents.

Saturday, May 27
PaulHuff

Mr. Corrente,

You lost. Move on with your life.

Thank you.

Sunday, May 28
Scal1024

Rick, for you to say "i didn't lose" shows a certain lack of reality that is astonishing. You still can't name one line item of spending you would cut. You lost with over $30,000 in your campaign account yet you blame your loss on money? What an embarrasment! Not to mention the hundreds of signs you littered this city with, some in areas where people never even asked for a sign.

Do every taxpayer in this city a favor and go away. We don't want you representing us. Your political career was a bust, you've proven yourself to be clueless on practically any important matter effecting this city. You've also proven that you can't be honest with the taxpayers such as your failure to disclose late tax payments, utilitiy payments, failure to pay rent etc. People will not forget, and for the thousands who know what a disaster you would be as mayor we will not let them forget.

Stop blaming PAC money. You ran for over 2 years (you haven't stopped running even after you lost). The voters have overwhelmingly rejected you, take a hint!!!

Monday, May 29
ThatGuyInRI

My apologies to Mr. Corrente, I didn't realize he "didn't lose" the election but rather "gained the trust and support of 13,278 taxpayers." By that logic the Atlanta Falcons "gained 28 points" in the Super Bowl.

Look, any fool can stand at Hoxie Four Corners for a couple of years with a big sign that says "Cut spending, Lower Taxes" and gain a bunch of votes because the general public is lazy and or stupid. Who can't get behind lower taxes? It's easy to get support for that single topic campaign.

The problem is, people like the things those taxes pay for. People like to have their garbage picked up, people like to have the roads plowed and salted, their pot holes filled, they also like the police, fire, and rescue departments to show up when they call. They like to go to parks and Little League games and most people like not paying for private schools. Everybody wants lower taxes but when you ask them which of the above listed they want to give up the answer is always none. I happily pay my taxes and enjoy the services they provide. Truth be told, I'd be willing to pay more if it meant the city plow trucks would stop ripping up my lawn ever winter.

And no, you are not indebted to me as a tax payer. I did not contribute to your campaign, I did not vote for you, you owe me nothing because you lost the election.

Tuesday, May 30
richardcorrente

Dear Captain, ThatGuyInRI, PaulHuff,and Scal1024,

Odd that you criticize my plan but none of you intelligent people have ever presented an alternate plan. Ever!

You keep saying how you want me to go away when you know that I won't. You keep insulting me when you don't even have the courage to identify yourself. You keep saying how wrong I am but you never say what you would do differently. If you don't like my plan for tax cuts or spending cuts maybe it's because you support the Mayors plan of "That's OK, we'll just raise taxes." Maybe you are on his payroll. Sounds like you are.

Here's an idea. Pick on one of my plans for pension buyouts, or rebate checks for new home buyers, or the two year moratorium on building permits, or the Airport Agreement and see if you A. Like my plan or B. Can think of a better one.

Let's be honest here. If you can't think of a better plan than mine you're going to have to admit my plan is the best one.

Maybe you will even vote for me.

Happy Summer critics,

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Wednesday, May 31
ThatGuyInRI

Sorry Mr. Corrente, I didn't realize you were so sensitive.

But....

You are running (endlessly) for public office, not me.

You publicly open yourself up to scrutiny with your political aspirations, not me.

You endlessly use this forum to advance your own political agenda, not me.

I only want you to stop using this medium for your own political aspirations.

I support your right to campaign all you want, just not on this forum. Go stand in Hoxie for all eternity if it pleases you.

I will have a great summer, thank you kindly.

I hope you have a great summer as well, far away from a keyboard.

Wednesday, May 31
Thecaptain

Rick,

A single comment is not a plan, you have never had a plan and have never articulated any plan. As judged by your abysmal performance at the "debate", you certainly are not well versed on any topic. Again, my invitation to debate you on any city issue is open at any time.

Wednesday, May 31