Cranston Mayoral candidate Allan Fung has issued a statement on Judge Judith Savage’s dismissal of the school committee’s Caruolo Act lawsuit…
“Judge Judith Savage’s arguments for denying the School Committee’s request are quite alarming,” said Fung. “It shows that the School Department made no serious attempt to live within the money appropriated to it by the City. Even more disconcerting is that their current budget is based on a continuation of spending well beyond the amount allotted to the school system for the current fiscal year.”Jim Quinlan
While their bid to get additional money failed, as it did in 2004, the Schools were able to get approximately $4.1 million from Cranston’s Rainy Day Fund in the form of a loan. Judge Savage ruled that this loan has to be paid back. In addition to this reduction in the Rainy Day Fund, the School Committee will likely be forced to cut popular programs for students such as the program for gifted students (EPIC) and middle school sports, negatively impacting the quality of education for Cranston’s children. Fung pointed out that this is just another instance of a lack of leadership from our current elected officials.
“This is just another example of fiscal mismanagement by our elected officials that will leave Cranston residents holding the bag,” stated Fung. “The School Committee expects taxpayers to provide them with a blank check while they struggle in these difficult times to make ends meet. The School Committee and their administrators must be held accountable to spend taxpayer money wisely.”
In closing, Fung stressed that the School Administration must learn to run the school system more efficiently with the funds they are allocated by the Mayor and City Council. “While I’m a proponent of providing adequate funding to maintain our first rate school system, I will not do so until the School Administration can prove to me that they’re spending each dollar wisely,” said Fung. “The School Department was presented with a series of recommendations from a performance audit in 2004 that would have resulted in savings of approximately $12 million. Unfortunately school officials were unable or unwilling to implement many of these recommendations. As a result, we all lost. The taxpayers lost through a reduction in the Rainy Day Fund. The parents with children in the Cranston schools lost because of the likelihood that great school programs will be cut.”
, Republican candidate for Cranston City Council city-wide, has also issued a reaction…
No matter how the decision would have come down, it is a loss for the taxpayers of Cranston and is a clear demonstration of failed financial management by our elected leaders. Let us not forget that the City Council has already dipped into the City’s Rainy Day Fund to loan the School Dept. $4.1 Million. This money will have to be paid back over time which will likely mean cuts in programs for the students.
It is time for true accountability in our city departments including monthly operations reviews within each city department reported to the Council in order to be able to immediately react to any budgetary concerns.
Had the administration and City Council demanded accountability from the schools when they were first notified of the looming budget deficit the loss to the taxpayers could have been minimized. Had the current council not approved multiple unnecessary legal settlements over the past 18 months and an egregious firefighter’s contract perhaps there would have been money in the initial budget to avoid level funding the schools.
Shame on the School Committee for their reckless spending and their blatant disregard for the process. However shame as well on the City Council for not standing up for the taxpayers of Cranston in the first place.