WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Warwick’s interim mayor said he’s has come up with more money to help the city’s cash-strapped schools.
Joseph Solomon said he sent a letter to the school committee’s chairwoman, Bethany Furtado, offering the school department an additional $1.75 million to absorb a portion of the schools’ debt service.
Solomon said the city would take the money out of its $5 million paving budget for fiscal year 2019, and conduct some restructuring within departments to help the school department fill a $6 million budget gap.
“This was the amount that the city of Warwick could afford to spend at this time without putting us in a dangerous situation,” Solomon said.
Solomon also urged the school department to consider similar restructuring of its 42 full-time managers and administrators, who average a salary around $110,000 a year. He suggested the savings be put back into the custodial and clerical positions that are on the chopping block.
The school committee initially tried to fill the gap by proposing fees for various school services and activities — including charging $1 a day to ride a school bus, charging students in middle and high school to participate in sports, and eliminating positions like bus monitors. However, the Rhode Island Department of Education categorically denied the requests.
While he cannot direct the school department how to spend the funds, Solomon said the additional money could cover some of the cuts that had previously been proposed – including a mentorship program.
The school committee is required by law to balance the budget.