Schools should call on unions to help balance budget
To the Editor:
Over the next week or so, the school committee will take up the task of cutting its budget.
If business manager Anthony Ferrucci’s best-case scenario plays out, the school department could see a surplus of $800K to $1 million. If one adds the $400K additional funding from the city, then they’re looking at a cut of somewhere between $2.4 to $2.6 million.
Obviously, we’re not privy to the committee’s strategy, but one doesn’t need to be a Mensa candidate to understand that a cut of this size cannot come solely on the backs of the students via program cuts. Simple common sense should compel the school committee to also seek concessions from the collective bargaining units, as well as administration, so that the pain is truly shared.
The city dealt the schools a very bad hand, and no one is more disappointed and upset at the City Council and the mayor than I am, but if they look only to the discretionary side of their budget in order to prove some point with the city, then they should think again. Cutting only programs to prove a point is not leadership, it’s petulance. Cutting only programs without also asking for concessions from administration and collective bargaining units is cowardice. When campaigning for their offices, they repeatedly stressed that they were “for the kids.” Well, this is their chance to show that.
We hear a similar refrain from most everyone who works in the schools. At one of the Gorton public hearings, Warwick Teachers Union President Jim Ginolfi, in his opposition to closing the school as a cost saving measure, stated that he could be very helpful in finding significant savings and that his door was always open.
To use a poker phrase, the school committee should “call” him. In simple terms, salaries and benefits are where the overwhelming majority of the budget dollars are, and when faced with a gap of this magnitude, all stakeholders must take a little medicine. If any group is unwilling to go along then, in the spirit of transparency, that should be made public so that we can decide for ourselves who is really “for the kids” and who is not.