Cart-Before-Horse School Budgeting
During tonight’s Citizen Good and Welfare (public comment portion – cities and towns around Rhode Island, take note: in Woonsocket, this item is close to the top of the agenda) of the School Committee meeting, a citizen asked a question about a payment received by the city from the state, how it was applied to the deficit and how the school budget wound up in the red to begin with. Superintendent Dr. Robert Gerardi answered the question and, in the process, revealed a potential flaw in the Woonsocket School Committee’s budgeting process.
The words are paraphrased; the order of events is not. Dr. Gerardi said, the original budget was presented and approved by the School Committee; then, the Mayor and the City Council gave us our appropriation and we were $7.1m in debt.
Okay. Except that Rhode Island law dictates that the city/town council sets the amount of the school budget. It is the role of the school committee of that municipality to determine how the money will be spent.
Presuming that Dr. Gerardi did not misspeak as to the order of events, wouldn’t it have made more sense for the School Committee to have ascertained from the City Council the amount that would comprise the school budget before the spending got under way?