The week that was

The week that was

No. Smithfield teacher arrested, charged with stealing $6,866

A North Smithfield Middle School teacher was arrested on Thursday, July 24, and has been accused of stealing nearly $7,000 in funds intended for a field trip, from the School Department.

Brian Chuey, 29, of Cranston was charged with two counts of felony larceny after allegedly stealing $6,866, according to a release from the North Smithfield Police Department. Chuey taught 7th grade social studies at the Middle School and has been employed by the department since 2006. He served as the boys junior varsity basketball coach and the golf coach.

Supt. Stephen Lindberg said he was first alerted to the problem by Middle School Principal John Lahar.

"We had worked on an internal investigation on some funds that were missing at the Middle School," Lindberg told The Breeze last week.

Lahar alerted school authorities, and the department followed internal procedures, delivering the results to local police, Lindberg explained.

Lindberg said the missing funds were related to a school field trip.

"It was part of John's internal process as he closed out activity accounts at the end of the year," Lindberg said of the discovery.

In a statement, Lindberg emphasized that the money stolen did not come from department operational funds.

"I am sure we are all saddened, for various reasons, at the events that have transpired," said Lindberg.¬?"I ask for your patience and support as we go through the legal process."¬?¬?

"The North Smithfield School District continues to have one of the best teaching and support staff and schools anywhere."

Moody's deems Woonsocket bond rating 'stable'

Moody's Investors Services has revised Woonsocket's bond credit rating from negative to stable, citing the city's recent expenditure cuts and an increase in revenues, adopted as part of the Budget Commission's five-year deficit reduction plan.

The update from the agency, issued on June 26, also affirmed a B3 rating for the city's $216.9 million of outstanding debt. That rating, issued in June of last year, is used to assess the likelihood that a loan to the city would be repaid, and put Woonsocket below investment grade into the "highly speculative" category. The B3 rating reflects an accumulated operating deficit and annual liquidity shortages, according to Moody's.

Still, the change from negative to stable within the B3 rating is positive news.

"The stable outlook also considers the city's improved liquidity given recent expenditure cuts and its ability to borrow from other funds and advance state aid," explained a release from the agency.

The firm lists as "strengths" fiscal control of a state-appointed oversight commission with ability to advance state aid revenue, and recent stabilization in the city's operating funds. As challenges, it cites the city's ongoing liquidity strain, very high debt burden and unfunded pension and OPEB liabilities, and high fixed costs.

Woonsocket Firefighters ratify new 5-year contract

In a vote of 51 to 23, members of the International Association of Firefighters Local 732 approved the terms of a new contract with the city on Friday, July 29. The Budget Commission approved the same document, estimated to save the city around $1.3 annually, by a vote of 4-1 last week.

The progress brings to a close months of negotiations, which culminated July 20 in a forced restructuring of the department, with a change to a 56-hour workweek and 3 platoon system. The commission enacted the changes, which increased firefighters' hours without a corresponding increase in pay, in lieu of an active collective bargaining agreement with the union, under the authority granted to them through the state Fiscal Stability Act.

The terms of the deal have not yet been released, but IAFF President Daryl Paux said firefighters returned to their normal work shifts Sunday morning.

"We're still working on the finalized details," Paux told The Breeze.

The contract will extend until 2019.