Voters Agree To Switch School Committee From Elected To Appointed

New members will get nominated by mayor, approved by City Council in November.


Come November 2013, new Woonsocket School Committee members will get appointed to the board instead of elected.

City voters agreed to make the switch, casting approve votes on Question 8 — Amendments to the Woonsocket Home Rule Charter:"Shall the City of Woonsocket Home Rule Charter, Chapter XIV, be amended to provide for an appointed School Committee?"

Voters approved the measure with a 57 percent majority - 6,098 in favor to 4,582 opposed. There were 1,455 "under votes" - people who declined to vote one way or another on the question.

With that move decided, said Mayor Leo Fontaine, "Next November, whoever is elected Mayor at that point would be responsible for coming up with the appointments for submitting to the council for approval."

WNRI's Roger Bouchard has a more detailed timeline of the appointment process.  

"I think it's a positive step," Fontaine said, that's justified by the city's struggle to win the School Committee's cooperation in reining in school spending. City Finance Director Thomas Bruce, state auditors and Moody's have attributed the city's current $15 million deficit to that spending. 

For those who criticize Fontaine and the City Council for not doing more to control school spending, he pointed out that the Council sued the School Department to force a limit on their spending - an extraordinary measure - to no avail. Earlier this year, the School Committee itself was at a loss to determine the full scope of its financial crisis.

If all was going well for the committee, Fontaine said, he wouldn't have supported the move.

"I was shocked it passed," said School Committee member Anita McGuire-Forcier. But, she said an appointed school board may lead to more focus on the children and community and less on political manuevering to curry votes. "I think it's stating that people are tired of politics," McGuire-Forcier said.

Though the need to lobby for an appointment to the board is a year away, McGuire Forcier said if she had to make the decision today, she'd go for it. "I want to continue to work with the community."






Doctor November 14, 2012 at 07:05 PM
This can work just as long as there is no long term contract being signed and that the person can be fired at any time by the mayor and council. Make it a year by year process with an annual review of progress.
Russell Archambault November 14, 2012 at 09:24 PM
We vote for a mayor. We vote for 7 council people to represent us for the well being of the citizens of our city. With the change of getting a school committee, we might have a better chance of getting more responsible people.There are people who would be happy to run the school system,but who would never run for office for school committee. In other words, I'll take my chances of having the present council pick the school committee, than a bunch of non informed voters, voting for people just because they are politically correct or they talk a sweet game. I can say this, if I was ever on the school committee, the first order of business would be to fire several people starting from the top. When you vote in the next election and have faith in your new elected officials, have enough faith that they will make a good decision for school members.Dont forget they will be responsible for any failures.The blame game just got smaller.
Mew November 14, 2012 at 11:19 PM
It will be business as usual if we vote in the same council that is in place, this city is wll known for keeping the same people in office, GOOD OR BAD!! I have no faith in Fontaine or Ward, they have helped to put us in this mess. So remember when you vote next year, get rid of the problem!! Don't you think that Fontaine will name some of his suppoerters?? God only knows who would do that!!!!!1 GOD HELP US!!!!
Memere November 15, 2012 at 03:49 AM
The decisions will be made purely as cost saving measures and not on what is educationally sound practices for the welfare of the students. If I had school age children now that this has been voted in, I would seriously be looking at private schools or moving out of the city. The welfare of my children would come first. When citizens voluntarily give up their right to vote, that is NEVER a good move. To give one person ( the Mavor, in this case) so much power is a very scary situation. The Mavor ( and others on the City Council) have made it perfectly clear that they have no respect for our school department and consequently our children. While they are continually blaming the school department for our financial woes, they have continually been underfunding our schools FOR YEARS, have received many concessions from the teachers union while at the same time have been giving raises to police and firemen in the city. Yet our Mayor still blames the schools. Some city workers receive lifetime medical benefits payed for by the city after they retire and who do you think is paying for those benefits? That's right, the taxpayers. I asked a teacher recently if they received those benefits and was told that they do not. Yet our Mayor again blames the schools for our money shortage. I think it is time that the truth, the WHOLE truth starts coming out. The taxpayers of Woonsocket deserve the truth.
Sly December 03, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Fontaine and Ward will not be around.


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