School board increases stipends by $3,000

School board increases stipends by $3,000

WOONSOCKET – Beginning next year, the city’s elected School Committee is in for a raise after members voted to increase the stipend for the position last week.

Last Wednesday, Nov. 20, members voted 4-1 to increase the stipend for school board members from $5,000 to $8,000 per year. The stipend of the board chairperson will increase from $5,500 to $8,500 per year.

The new stipends won’t take effect until after city residents head to the polls in November 2020. That’s because the city charter bars sitting School Committee members from increasing their own stipends for the current term.

“If none of us are elected, then none of us would enjoy the increase in stipend,” said Chairman Paul Bourget.

It’s not an unprecedented raise, according to Bourget. In previous years, he said, the annual stipend for the position stood at $8,000 before it was reduced to $7,200. That number was further reduced to $5,000 in 2012 after the Budget Commission was appointed to oversee the city’s finances, largely due to a budget shortfall in the Education Department.

Since then, said Bourget, members have continued to attend twice monthly meetings and also participate in several subcommittees and regular school events.

“I know that every single one of us is not here for the stipend. It’s not the money that drives the work that we do,” he said.

Nevertheless, Bourget and other members agreed an increase in funding could help attract quality candidates to the position. Committee members Donald Burke, Rebecca Capwell and Eleanor Nadeau all expressed their support for the measure, which Capwell noted could encourage more candidates to run for the position.

“It isn’t about the money, but it is about attracting individuals going forward,” she said.

Only Lynn Kapiskas, elected to the board for the first time in 2018, voted against the proposal. Reached by The Breeze, she said she felt the vote was inconsistent with the goal of being fiscally conservative.

"While being a member of the School Committee involves a much larger time commitment than I anticipated when I decided to run and, based on that alone, an increase in stipend for School Committee members elected next November might be well deserved, I could not in good conscience vote to approve that increase in stipend while preaching that we need to be fiscally conservative," she said.

Even before the increase, Woonsocket School Committee members already make a larger stipend than board members in many of the city’s surrounding communities. In North Smithfield, School Committee members receive $2,330 per year, while in Pawtucket, members make $3,500, with the chair receiving $4,000 per year. In Cumberland, a plan to increase the School Committee stipend from $2,200 to $3,200 was reversed last year after the department received less than expected in its annual town budget contribution.

Bourget said the increase will be subject to approval by the City Council as part of the budget process at the end of the current fiscal year.

Comments

If you want to fix public education you need to address discipline in the classroom. Teachers have to teach without unruly students. Unruly students need to be disciplined so the students that want to learn can. Enough Talk

This is wrong in so many ways. Our public education in our city is one of the lowest funded in the state, we are constantly fighting for funds with charter schools, and teachers are forever spending their OWN paychecks to supply our children with school necessities. Please explain to us how this is warranted. If other communities nearby are spending less than half for stipends than what we are, how can you justify asking for an increase? If there is money in the budget for an increase to your stipend, then give it back to the teachers who spend their own money for teaching supplies.

I agree with Frankie. Already making more then everyone else and you're not in it for the money??? How about ensuring that the city's schools test scores start going up before you get anything. Give the extra money to where it belongs, in the classroom.