Woonsocket Schools Could Close Early

The Woonsocket school committee is kicking around a drastic action, closing all of the schools and putting six thousand students on the curb months before the end of the year.     

The proposal is based on two things, the school department will run out of money by the end of the month, and there's a seven million dollar budget hole.

They can't close legally. It's law in Rhode Island kids have to go to school 180 days every year, and ending the school year two and a half months early just won't cut it.     

But school committee members said the situation in Woonsocket is so dire, they have to make some drastic moves. The school district owes four million dollars to its venders and only has enough money to get through the month, so the school committee is considering the ultimate death option closing schools in April.      

“I think our hand is really being forced right now to the detriment of Woonsocket's youth,” said school committee member Chris Roberts.

“I don't think there's a plan behind any of it,” said school committee member Eleanor Nadeau, “I think we're covering our bases, but I don't think it has a lot of substance.”

“I don't understand that,” said parent Rebeckah Philbin, “My kids  got special needs and you're going to tell me he has to be out of school by April.”

Philbin's two children go to school in Woonsocket. She's stunned by the news. “My problem is if they do decide to take away from our childrens' education then my husband and I, I've lived in Rhode Island my whole entire life, that we're going to have to pack up our things and we're going to have to move somewhere else,” she said.

“My fear is that when my kids do go off to college, they're not going to be able to achieve what other kids from other communities are achieving. They're not going to be able to keep up,” said parent Alethea Forcier.

To avoid closing the schools, Woonsocket needs help from the state. Monday, the school committee passed a corrective action plan asking for state money three months early and for Woonsocket residents to pay a supplemental tax increase.    

There are two school committee members in favor of closing the schools. They need 3 votes.      The next meeting will be Wednesday.