June 10, 2010

Warwick Schools: They Know Where to Cut, but Will it Get Done?

Marc Comtois

Warwick Superintendent Dr. Peter Horoschak knows where to go to make budget cuts that would save sports and other activities:

Superintendent Peter Horoschak calculates that even with the mayor's plan to save sports and extra curricular activities, the schools still face a $6.1 million budget deficit. In his opinion, the best place to start plugging the hole is with an across-the-board 20 percent health insurance co-payment.

"I advocate that because I think it is the most sensible and fairest thing to do," Horoschak said Tuesday. He estimated if all school employees paid 20 percent of health care costs, the department could save $3.7 million.

Currently teachers are paying $11 a week for health care as are administrators and middle management. Members of the Warwick Independent School Employees (WISE) that have been unable to reach a contract since the last one expired four years ago have no co-pay.

But while the superintendent favors a uniform co-payment for all employees, implementing it is another matter. Co-payments are a part of the Warwick Teachers Union contract that doesn’t expire for another year and unilaterally imposing higher co-payments, Horoschak believes, would lead to a court battle that he doubts the schools would win. Likewise, the superintendent said the department could save about $3.1 million if it eliminated teacher raises next year. Again, however, this would violate the contract unless the union was to agree to revisions.

Horoschak said schools have asked the union to reopen the contract following Mayor Scott Avedisian's announcement that schools would shoulder about $6 million of the $10 million cut from the city's state aid projections.

Similar concessions could be made on the city side of things, too, where workers pay a flat rate, not a percentage, of their salary for Health care. Back to the school budget, though. A salary freeze for FY 2011 would also be a good move. But--surprise, surprise--good luck with any of it.
Teacher union president James Ginolfi said yesterday that he had received a letter some weeks ago about reopening the contract, but heard nothing until yesterday when Horoschak called.

"We've been waiting and waiting. There hasn't been much talk; it"s been in their hands for a response," Ginolfi said.

"I guess I have a problem that they tell you what they're looking for and not me and they have had plenty of opportunities," he added. He did not comment on Horoschak's proposals, saying those discussions would have to take place at the bargaining table.

The School Committee, Superintendent, Mayor and City Council will all be meeting about this tonight at 6 PM at City Hall.

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Cuts in Warwick?

Let’s take a look at some potential savings.

Several years ago a Principal was removed from the job for poor performance.

Terminated? Not on your life.

I believe the claim was that “adequate training” had not been provided!

Result? Placed in another “make work” position at $100K per annum!

The Superintendent decides that there should be better “access control” to schools.

Result: A new lock system for the schools.

Bottom line, the system was too cumbersome and expensive, so now some doors have the new locks and some don’t!

Way too many “Administrators “at 34 Warwick Lake Ave who don’t have a clue as too what is going on in the schools.

Shall I continue?

As for Gist?

The woman doesn’t have a clue!

She is in RI to get her “ticket punched”.

Like former Superintendent John Deasey in Coventry, she will talk the talk, create chaos and then move on.

Try a Google search and read the stories relative to his performance in California and Maryland…

Where is he now?

Head of the Bill and Melinda gates Foundation!!!

His Curriculum Vitae is fantastic!

But at what cost to the students who had to live with his “reforms”?

Posted by: Aldo at June 10, 2010 3:00 PM

Aldo, The problem is that the volume is not in the Admin bldg, like it or not. Could cuts be made? I'm sure, but it wouldn't amount to the savings you think. Administration comprises 5% of salaries/benefits, Teachers and WISE Union comprise the other 95%.

Posted by: Marc at June 10, 2010 3:36 PM

I understand that.

The issue is that Administration KNOWS where to make cuts in wasteful spending and they don't do it...

I could go on for pages about inefficiencies and waste in Warwick..

My point is that there are many incompetent employees in the system who are "related to" or "know" someone...

The WISE union has been hammered while the Director of Human Resources / Legal
Counsel for the School Department has run roughshod over them...

There are many areas that could be cut which would result in substantial savings but 34 Warwick Lake Ave refuses to go there..

Posted by: Aldo at June 10, 2010 5:01 PM

I will agree that most of the employees are not on the Admin side. But all you have to do is look at the spending that goes on in Admin to understand where the true savings are.
I went 25 pages into the last posted check register for the school department and found 3060.49 paid out for mileage to Administration, this out of 90 pages for 1 month Even if you take this as the average for mileage for the year it comes to 36725.88 (The cost of someone in the Wise Union Salary). There are also fee's of 510.00 for the Rhode Island Association of School Admin (only for 1 person) so if the pay this fee for everyone it comes to $16,290 for the Principles, an estimated 8000 for Admin. These figures do not include the people that belong to both Associations. Not to mention the 18,000 paid to the R I ASS Of School Committees, whom is lobby hard against ANY consolidation of school departments because they know their gig will be up. That 18 thou does not cover any meeting that the members have to attend and they all get reimbursed for by the school departments. I could go on and on.

Posted by: Tom at June 13, 2010 8:29 PM

Tom, what percentage of the budget is admin costs, including bennies, mileage, etc?

What percentage of the budget is teacher and staff compensation, including bennies?

Certainly, the city should cut any excess spending anywhere it exists, including admin costs. But it sounds like you are looking for savings in a far smaller part of the budget while leaving the biggest part of it untouched.

Or perhaps I am misunderstanding what you are saying. Can you please clarify: in your view, should teachers and staff pay a 20% health insurance co-share?

Posted by: Monique at June 14, 2010 8:14 AM
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