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Woonsocket considers shuttering schools in April

March 13, 2012

The school year would come to an early end in Woonsocket, under a proposal up for debate and possible vote Wednesday at the Woonsocket School Committee. The measure calls for all schools to close in April instead of June. It comes as school officials worry they will not be able to pay their bills through the end of the school year without extra help from the city and the state.

Woonsocket schools have $4 million in overdue bills right now, and school officials must find a way to close a $10 million deficit. Despite the dire financial situation, Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan plans to advise against an April shutdown.

“State law requires 180 days in the school year unless there is some kind of severe environmental disaster,” Donoyan said, adding that she also has concerns about disruptions to federal funding.

Donoyan will present a budget plan over the coming weeks, which she says will seek to balance the budget and pay off Woonsocket’s existing debts over time. Though she is hoping to avoid drastic and unpopular measures, reductions in teacher pay and programs like sports and music are all likely to be on the table.

If there’s a silver lining here, Donoyan says it may be the opportunity to restructure the school department, which has clearly failed to adapt to the current state of Woonsocket finances.

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