Duct Tape Time: Woonsocket School Committee Dumps Chair For “dwelling on financial matters”

When he was about to share a particularly outrageous or egregious item, Glenn Beck used to admonish his listeners to wrap their heads in duct tape so that clean up would be easier when their heads exploded upon hearing the item. The Valley Breeze’s Sandy Phaneuf should have provided a similar preface to her just breaking story.

They had to change their bylaws to do it, but in a 3 to 2 vote Wednesday night, the Woonsocket School Committee ousted Chair Anita McGuire-Forcier and elected former Vice Chair Vimala Phongsavanh to the position. …
Although there was little discussion on Wednesday as plan received second passage, Donlon, who sponsored both resolutions, has said he felt McGuire-Forcier was “dwelling on financial matters rather than working on items pertaining to education.”

We’ll limit our review of the Woonsocket School Committee’s financial “history” to two items, one macro and one instructive as to mentality.
Macro. This is the School Committee which claimed to be shocked and clueless when their education budget went from a small surplus to a $10 million deficit for two years almost overnight, taking down the city’s bond rating and quite possibly the entire city in the process. Are we seriously supposed to believe that too much “dwelling on financial matters” precipitated this budgetary catastrophe?
Instructive. As recently as two months ago, a majority – the same members who just voted to replace the chair because she was “dwelling on financial matters” – of this School Committee refused to even discuss the option of asking retirees to accept the same health care coverage as current employees. Now, due in part to the shirking and incompetence of the School Committee, retirees (and employees) are facing the unilateral imposition of “significant cuts to healthcare and benefits” that might well have retirees longing for the healthcare option that the School Committee refused to consider. Again, this would constitute avoiding rather than “dwelling on” financial matters.
Quite simply, if financial matters are not tended, there is no education system to work on. Far from dwelling excessively on financial matters, the Woonsocket School Committee has a solid track record, in recent years, of FAILING to dwell on financial matters with the corresponding, recurring detrimental results. Tonight’s vote is a continuation of this irresponsible and destructive head-in-the-sand approach.
If the state continues to decline to take over Woonsocket’s school system, it should take the minimal step of replacing the current School Committee members with cardboard cut-outs. Such a composition would achieve the same results as the current school committee (majority) membership while relieving the good people of Woonsocket of any pretence that something is being accomplished at School Committee meetings.

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