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Committee Prepares $7.7M FY20 School Budget Cuts

[CREDIT: File Photo] Warwick Veterans Jr. High School at 2401 W Shore Road.

[CREDIT: File Photo] Warwick Veterans Jr. High School at 2401 W Shore Road.
[CREDIT: File Photo] Warwick Veterans Jr. High School at 2401 W Shore Road.
WARWICK, R.I. — The School Committee is preparing to make major cuts to the 2020 budget after the city council declined their request for an additional $7.7 million, to be announced at a special meeting on June 18.

Parents, teachers, and students expressed their fears about the impending cuts.

Tracy McDermott, a teachers’ assistant, warned the committee of the possible consequences of cutting teachers assistants from the budget. Students with behavioral issues are a threat to safety in the classroom, McDermott explained.

“(TAs) are the only members of the school department who have CPI – crisis prevention training,” McDermott noted. “No one else in the system has it. We’re on every crisis prevention team in every school. So when you start eliminating TAs, you don’t have anybody who can restrain, you don’t have anyone in de-escalation because we’re the only ones who are (trained) every year.”

Madison Enos, the captain of the girls’ track team at Pilgrim High School, urged the committee not to cut funding for sports programs. Enos said the loss of sports could jeopardize student admissions to colleges.

“Sports also teach character and perseverance and many other skills which are relevant to the real world,” Enos said.

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Enos also presented a petition supporting the city council and Mayor Solomon’s resolution earmarking $1.3 million to save the schools’ sports programs. The petition had almost 5,700 signatures.

Last week, the council’s Intergovernmental Committee approved a vote of no confidence in School Finance Director Anthony Ferrucci on a 2-1 vote, following their accounts of mistaken, misrepresented figures and misaligned priorities.

Councilman Anthony Sinapi reiterated that Ferrucci had been off on School Department health care costs by seven percent, criticized his refusal of community donations to for unpaid student lunch debt, and his apparent misstatement last year that Schools needed no less than $8 million, when, he said, it turned out they did not.

Ferrucci was absent from Tuesday’s school committee meeting.

The school committee also adopted a resolution in support of the Safe Schools Act of 2019, the Assault Weapon Ban, and high capacity magazine ban.

“We’ve seen all this violence, we’ve seen the mass killings,” Bachus said. “For me, it’s never been a second amendment issue. These guns don’t belong in schools.”

The resolution says in part: “Data collected by the Violence Policy Center, a Washington D.C. gun safety organization, from May 2007 to March 2017 documents 729 gun violence incidents in 40 states and the District of Columbia resulting in 928 deaths. In 83 percent of the incidents (601) the concealed carry killer either committed suicide (296), has already been convicted (235), perpetrated a murder-suicide (56), or was killed in the incident (17). Of the 95 cases still pending, the vast majority (81) have been charged with criminal homicide, 4 were deemed incompetent to stand trial, and 10 incidents are still under investigation. An additional 30 incidents were fatal unintentional shootings involving the gun of the concealed handgun permit holder; and WHEREAS: The National Education Association of Rhode Island, The Rhode Island Association of School Principals, The Rhode Island Association of School Committees, and The Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals have voted to support banning concealed weapons on school grounds, except for duly authorized peace officers/law enforcement.”

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The resolution will be sent to the general assembly to encourage them to pass the legislation for safe schools.