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Woonsocket schools to stay open amid budget uncertainty

March 15, 2012

The Woonsocket School Committee has voted down a measure to close schools early due to a budget shortfall. School officials say they will keep the district open through the end of the school year, but it remains unclear how they will find the money to make payroll in the coming months.

Woonsocket Mayor Leo Fontaine listened to the unanimous vote over the radio last night. He says the school district has not answered key questions as to how it will pay $4 million in currently outstanding bills, or how it will close a cumulative deficit expected to reach $10 million by the end of June.

School officials in Woonsocket say they begin looking at specific cost-cutting measures in the coming weeks. They are likely to ask teachers to reopen their contract, although teachers’ union leaders say they have already taken pay cuts and increased health care contributions in recent years.

Governor Lincoln Chafee’s administration is working with Woonsocket city and school officials to find a solution to the schools’ budget woes. School officials say they are hoping for an early infusion of state education funding as well as a supplemental city tax to make it through the fiscal year.

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