School trash underscores unresolved budget issue

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The cleanliness of schools is an ongoing issue of importance to parents, students, teachers and administrators alike as the continuing budget impasse between the Warwick School Department and Warwick City Council lingers on now almost exactly six months following the departure of former Mayor Scott Avedisian at the inception of budget time in May.

At the heart of the issue is the school department’s inability to balance its budget – which it is required to do so by law – without making drastic cuts, which has included cutting janitorial staff to a level that necessitates some schools only being cleaned every other day, and some elementary schools not being cleaned at all over the weekends depending on the cleaning rotation.

However, with the recent couple of holidays, apparently the situation at Sherman School has been even worse than this less-than-ideal predicament normally precipitates.

“There has been no night custodian in a week at his school,” said Sherman School PTO president Karin Kavanagh in an email to administrators Wednesday morning. “They are supposed to have one every other night. Due to holidays and other confusion, our night custodian has been sent to his other school on the wrong nights with no back up for this school.”

Kavanagh shared photos of multiple trash bags piled in classrooms and dirtied sinks and floors.

“As you can see, the conditions are gross,” she continued in the email. “Teachers are bagging and tying up their trash due to fruit flies, the floors are disgusting. It's more than a few papers on the floor that need to be picked up – it’s dirty, and gross. This is the environment our students are learning in, and its unacceptable.”

Finance director Anthony Ferrucci responded to Kavanagh’s concerns on Wednesday, thanking her for bringing the issue to the central administration’s attention.

“On one hand, it is extremely difficult to clean our buildings with the staff reductions we experienced, on the other hand, it has come to our attention that scheduling around holidays was confusing,” he wrote. “We have corrected the holiday scheduling issue. It is the expectation that cleaning crews will go back and forth between schools not counting holidays.”

Ferrucci hinted at the possibility that the city could step in and provide additional funding “within the next couple of weeks” and, in turn, custodians could possibly be hired back. The ultimate question however, which lies at the center of this entire issue, is how much the city will be able to provide. An audit undertaken by the school department concluded the schools were entitled to an additional $4 million above what they were given at budget time in order to facilitate their needs, but the city has been mum on how much they feel they should be responsible to give.

The school department must also plug around $3 million in “contingencies” that are not funded in the current budget, including $500,000 that the school committee set aside to keep sports from being cut; $690,000 in unsuccessful tuition waiver requests to RIDE; and $1.75 million in principal and interest payments for a 2006 school bond the schools have vowed to no longer pay. These holes must be plugged before any funding can be allocated to make up for the $750,000 cut made towards custodians and clerical staff.

It should be noted that Mayor Joseph Solomon offered the schools $1.75 million to offset the costs of the bond funding, however that offer was never officially accepted or denied by the school department. Negotiations between Solomon, City Council President Steve Merolla, Superintendent Philip Thornton, Ferrucci and School Committee Chairwoman Bethany Furtado are ongoing. Plans to present the audit to the city council have been delayed for months now in lieu of these negotiations, but neither side has divulged much information about specific progress being made.

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richardcorrente

To be accurate:

Mayor Solomon did NOT offer the schools $1.75 million dollars. It was $1.75 million dollars MORE! That is in addition to the $166 million+- the taxpayers ALREADY gave the School Committee for the needs of students , teachers, and school buildings, all of which are much reduced in number. By simple logic, Warwick planned and BUDGETED on a certain number of students, teachers, and buildings. They actually only had to FUND less in each category. Therefore they should have a large surplus. NOT a shortage.

I respect but don't agree with the Mayors decision to offer $1.75 million. I feel it was a keep-the-peace compromise, but it still wasn't enough to satisfy the School Committee. Neither will the new $40 million dollar credit card voters just approved "for the students" (Yeah right! So was the $25 million dollar bond/credit card of 2006!) .

But that was then. This is now. We have a new group of members. It will be interesting to see how that changes things. I hope it will and I hope it will be for the best interests of the students. The good news is that everyone is still talking and from communication comes solution. That was painfully lacking in the past. Godspeed to the new team.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, November 15
PaulHuff

Perhaps the teachers should keep their workspaces clean and throw their trash out in the dumpster when they leave for the day. The raises they got after they held the students hostage are why others lost their jobs. Cuts had to be made somewhere.

Can't they pitch in for the greater good once???

Thursday, November 15
Justanidiot

youse teachers want gold plated contract, ok youse gots it. oh we is laying off all the janitors, bus drivers and other non essential personnel youse wants a clean classroom, better takes out the trash. capeeesh

Thursday, November 15
richardcorrente

Back in the 50's and 60's students that received detention were required to also perform "KP". (kitchen police). Emptying trash, sweeping floors, wiping railings and doorknobs, windexing glass doors, and cleaning rest rooms were common. (I know from personal experience). Would that be a solution today or would it violate some state or city ordinance?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, November 15
CrickeeRaven

The two-time election reject is not accurate in virtually anything he states in his earlier comment, and is completely oblivious to the contradictions in his own statements.

First, the $1.75 million is still less -- not more -- than the original requested increase from the school committee.

Second, the two-time election reject repeatedly and vocally supported the salary increases included in the last contract -- which total $4.5 million of the FY19 school budget increase.

Third, the two-time election reject has repeatedly accused Mayor Solomon of raising taxes in FY19 to pay off political supporters, and has continued to make this accusation after Mayor Solomon so thoroughly defeated him in September.

Going by his own statements, the two-time election reject does not support funding the school budget so that the teachers can be paid, or he believes Mayor Solomon raised city taxes to pay union teachers.

He claims to use "simple logic," but in truth, his statements are defective and delusional.

A vast majority of honest, taxpaying voters disagreed with the two-time election reject, and he seems to give that as much credence as Mayor Solomon is paying to the two-time election reject's opinion: Zero.

The two-time election reject continues to ignore the published program auditors' findings, which showed that any savings in school consolidations have been reduced by the high number of teachers who are getting top-step salaries and benefits. There is no "large surplus."

The new bonds are not a "$40 million credit card." Everything about the bond process has been conducted in public, and is being overseen by the city and the state Board of Education. The list of projects has been discussed and considered in public, and the entire process has been as transparent as the two-time election reject's attempts to smear actual elected officials.

He was wrong about all of it then, and he is wrong about all of it now

Thursday, November 15
Cat2222

Students in Japan fully participate in the maintenance of their school daily. They also assist with setting up and handing out lunches to their peers. It starts from the first first day. They dust and mop floors, clean boards and desks, take trash out and even assist with cleaning the gym after their particular sport is done. When you have students involved in their school they are invested in it as well. For whatever reason, we have shied away from it here in the US.

Side note: the students have far superior test scores and results in Japan as opposed to the US as well. One might believe it was because the entire family was involved in the process but many high school students live on their own in cities and go to specific high ranking schools while the rest of their family stays back in their hometown. Teenagers, living alone, study and take school seriously. Can you imagine what a mess that would be here? We are doing it wrong and instead of trying to change course we just keep doing the same thing hoping it will work out.

Thursday, November 15
Mike02886

To be ACCURATE;

Residents of a city or town vote on the elected offices.

Most residents are tax payers ,(minus the renters, delinquents).

So if the taxpayers vote in Joe Solomon, by LAW he is the Taxpayers Mayor.

Friday, November 16
Thecaptain

It begs the question. How much time did Corrente spend in detention? Obviously lots, as he can't do math, he has no history knowledge, he cant speak publicly, he knows nothing about the ocean, and he cant cut a piece of wood. That being said,m I hope he spent a lot of time in home ec.

AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHA

Friday, November 16
CrickeeRaven

Thank you, Mike02886, for thoroughly dismantling the two-time election reject's continued use of a made-up and false title that he invented for himself.

As you rightly point out -- and as other have noted, as well -- winners of elections actually represent the voters and taxpayers, no matter what the two-time election reject may say or do.

Friday, November 16
Justanidiot

good point captain. however master mayer has the cleanest erasers in town

Friday, November 16
Thecaptain

LOL

Saturday, November 17
Mike02886

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob7Fin6aVtA

Start at 1:20.

So you went to medical school? So you won an election?

Sunday, November 18
Cat2222

Mike02886 - EPIC!

Monday, November 19