Pallotta: Mayor’s comments need clarification

Pallotta: Mayor’s comments need clarification

In reference to the article dated Oct. 30, “Mayor rips what he sees as excessive spending,” there are several references made by Mayor Lombardi that need clarification. Yes, it is true that Mayor Lombardi did not hire our previous finance director. However, we have to point out that the mayor’s finance director did participate on the interview committee. Secondly under R.I. Law, Title 16, 16-2-9, General Powers and Duties of School Committees, Item 6, the School Committee is an autonomous body given the authority to hire and terminate personnel, per the recommendation of the superintendent.

While the mayor is entitled to his opinion, we would prefer to deal with facts relative to the mayor’s accusation of paying two people for the same work. Again, relative to Rhode Island Department of Education regulations, we are required to have a certified finance director to oversee all financial operations at the school district. The number of people working in the school finance office is the same number of people that existed for the last 10 years. As a matter of efficiency and protecting taxpayers’ dollars, the School Committee reorganized the finance department to have better oversight of every expenditure.

The mayor is quoted as saying that “it is quite clear over there that the administration office is in a shambles”; we beg to disagree. We believe that the administration and School Committee have created stability by hiring very qualified individuals and have established a positive agenda moving forward. Over the last nine months we have been very prudent and uncompromising managing our level funded budget. We manage our budget with austerity and fiscal responsibility protecting the taxpayer’s money while providing every child with the best affordable education.

As far as the mayor’s comments relative to, “not having business sense,” here again are the facts. The School Committee saved approximately $208,000 over the last 9 months by:

• Reducing/eliminating staff overtime, saving $40,000

• Revising our copy machine lease, saving $50,000• Establishing our own redistricting subcommittee and not hiring a consultant, saving $60,000

• Having the newly appointed superintendent also assume the high school principal position for six months, while also serving as the superintendent, saving the district $50,000

• Hiring a new finance director at a savings of $8,000

Total: $208,000

The School Committee has oversight and responsibility to educate approximately 3,500 students while employing approximately 400 staff members and managing a budget of approximately $58,000,000.

It is critical that our finance department is appropriately staffed to protect our taxpayers’ money, while effectively providing resources to our students and hardworking staff.

As always, we will continue to work with all branches of government to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are expended judiciously and efficiently, and to provide an appropriate education for all our children.

The closing of Marieville Elementary School and the building of two new elementary schools on budget and on time is a prime example of when all branches of government work together for the good of the community.

This response is not intended to be critical, but only to provide clarity with factual information.

Dr. Frank Pallotta

Chairman, North Providence School Committee