Andre Araujo lamented in his comments today that the turnout for the Cranston school’s information meeting on their budget crisis was “dismal.” Truly, if there was a situation where Obama’s “bitter” seems to be revealing itself front and center, it would be in the apathy of parents in Cranston. Parents are just so tired of being played like pawns in a game of ever-diminishing returns, the result of which is a lessening in the quality education for our children.
I’m going to come out for the city council meeting tonight, to advocate for better funding for the schools, but it is not without strong reservations about the fiscal leadership of our schools. Back in 2005 when the teacher’s contract was signed, I recall people asking School Committee Chair Mike Traficante how we would pay for the raises and the added salary step. “We’ll figure that out when the time comes,” is what I remember the tenor of his answers to be.
Well, three years have passed and no one figured out where to get all the extra money that was needed. Instead, with each passing year, the Cranston schools have gone more in debt. Why? Because of poor fiscal planning. Because they wagered that they would be able to get the money out of the new Mayor, and they wagered wrong. Little did they know that Mayor Nap was on a mission to put the schools on a little pre-contract-negotiating starvation diet.
And so, with Napolitano taking office, the lack of increases began. At the same time, health care costs, food costs, and energy costs soared. The economy tanked. Still, the Cranston schools were contractually obligated to give raises to the teachers and support the lion’s share of their health benefits.
And now, here were are: $8 million dollars in debt. The school committee is asking parents to call their city councilors and plead for more money. I will show up for the meeting to plead. But I will also discuss with my city councilors my concerns about how we will deal with our l, when we have no idea how we will fulfill them. Maybe we need to have another campaign to call our school committee members and discuss how much we can allow the new contract being negotiated this year to mandate more steep increases in spending.