Warwick School Board Officials and City Agree to Mediation
Warwick City and its school officials are headed to mediation in an attempt to resolve the ongoing dispute over the schools’ budget allocation for the current fiscal year.
Reports from those familiar with the ongoing negotiations stated that it appeared both sides are planning for battle. A complaint filed in Superior Court by the school system requested a court order that would declare that the school budget approved by the council was not enough for the committee to comply with its requirements set forth by state law. They said they would be unable to honor contracts and meet regulations if that was the budget they were forced to work within.
The complaint also requested the court order the city to increase the education appropriate by nearly $5 million.
The lawsuit, based on a 1995 statute known as the Caruolo Act, claims that the school committee can file a lawsuit if it believes that an approved budget does not make it possible for it to comply with federal or state mandates.
According to school officials, the budget they believe to be inadequate is just under $165 million. The amount funded by Warwick taxpayers is approximately $124 million.
The two sides will discuss the issue in mediation and determine whether or not a change to the budget is possible and whether or not they can resolve their dispute without third-party assistance.
Should the mediation prove unsuccessful, the city and school will provide their “best last offer” and an arbitrator will make the final decision.