Either Way, the Children Suffer (but One Way Is the Way Out)
There’s creeping desperation in West Warwick:
The Town Council and School Committee agreed to open the lines of communication as part of a settlement of the Caruolo lawsuit the schools filed against the town in April, which seeks a $1.1-million addition to its $49.4-million budget. …
… the first step, Thomas said, is addressing the schools budget. This year, the School Department is projecting a $4-million deficit. The projections increase in coming years until they reach $12 million in fiscal 2012.
School Committee member James A. Williamson said the schools may have to get creative with ways to save — or raise money. It may propose charging teachers a parking fee, increasing the distance students have to walk to school to cut down on busing, or cutting sports programs. If that doesn’t work, Williamson said, he’ll propose the schools refuse to comply with some state or federal mandates that don’t directly affect student learning. “It sounds drastic, but if we’re to a point where if all else fails, and if there’s something we can do that won’t have a tremendous impact on students, we have to consider trying it out,” Williamson said. “It may be time to get bold, and try some things we’ve never tried before.”
If the schools begin cutting programs or making children walk longer distances in the cold, it adversely affects the students. If the schools begin to squeeze the overly remunerated union teachers, it adversely affects the students by way of unconscionable labor actions such as work to rule. At least the latter might lead to changes that can actually salvage a decent education for future classes; the former merely accepts a few more inches into the quicksand.
The single greatest mandate that towns must begin to fight is unions’ legalized monopoly of public education.