WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Nearly two weeks after the Warwick School Committee approved a budget that will make massive cuts in the district – including eliminating sports and clubs – parents, teachers and students are voicing their concerns as the budget continues to be worked through.
The school committee was forced to balance their budget after the city offered them $7.7 million less than what they initially requested. Warwick School Committee Chairwoman Karen Bachus said they’re continuing to work with the city in hopes of receiving more funding.
“This is not what we want to do to our community, and we do not want to fight with city hall, with our residents or with anyone else,” Bachus said. “This is one of the worst things to ever happen in Warwick.”
Parents spoke up at Thursday night’s meeting expressing concern for their children’s education and how the cuts could impact their future.
“Without these in place now you are impacting our students, like my son, who want to attend college,” one parent said.
Students also shared their concerns with the school committee on the potential cuts.
“You’re playing with us so that they give you the money,” one student said. “I don’t really think that’s right.”
Bachus made it clear that even if they did receive more funding, sports would not be their first priority. She said the school department’s prioritizing potential cuts, saying funding for textbooks and teacher’s aides would trump sports.
Superintendent Philip Thornton ensured the crowd there’s still much more to discuss during mediation with the city.
“The projection is, we will end the year approximately $4 million dollars in the red for the year right now, that has to be reconciled and dealt with,” Thornton said.
The new fiscal year begins on July 1, and school officials hope to figure out funding as soon as possible. Bachus said no matter what happens during mediation, they will continue to ask for more funding.