Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 11-27-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET | VALLEY BREEZE | NOVEMBER 27-DECEMBER 4, 2019 WOONSOCKET 3 School board increases stipends by $3,000 WOONSOCKET – Beginning next year, the city's elected School Committee is in for a raise after mem- bers 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 sti- pend," 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 financ- es, largely due to a budget shortfall in the Education Department. Since then, said Bourget, mem- bers 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 fund- ing could help attract quality candi- dates to the position. Committee mem- bers 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 for- ward," 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 fis- cally conservative. "While being a member of the School Committee involves a much larger time commitment than I antici- pated when I decided to run and, based on that alone, an increase in sti- pend for School Committee members elected next November might be well deserved, I could not in good con- science 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 mem- bers 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 sub- ject to approval by the City Council as part of the budget process at the end of the current fiscal year. By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer K of C Toy Drive is Saturday WOONSOCKET – The Knights of Columbus Woonsocket Council in conjunction with the Woonsocket Police Department is having its annu- al Toy Drive on Saturday, Nov. 30, at All Saints Church, Rathbun Street, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring a new unwrapped toy for children ages newborn to 13 years of age. Monetary donations are also wel- comed. The Christmas toys will be distributed by the police department for needy children throughout the community. At the toy drive, Santa will be there for pictures. The kitchen will be open for lunch and there will be raffles with prizes. L'Heureux honored at NRICA annual meeting WOONSOCKET – The Northern Rhode Island Council of the Arts presented Clara L'Heureux with its annual Art Award at its annual Board of Director's meeting held at the Coachmen's Lodge in Bellingham, Mass., on Thursday, Nov. 21. The award recognizes a person or organization whose arts-related activities and interest have improved the community. L'Heureux has been a longtime member of the organiza- tion, lending a hand and promoting the organization at every event since 1996. In addition, Paul Plante, a member of Catholic Financial Life Chapter No. 42 Duvernay of North Attleboro, Mass., presented the organization with $500 in matching funds in support of the NRICA's French Heritage Festival and Soiree, held in September. The organization also discussed plans for the upcoming Mardi Gras celebration to be held on Feb. 22 at St. Ann Arts & Cultural Center. The Mardi Gras Queen Contest is under- way, and the queen will be chosen and crowned on Feb. 16. NRICA Board of Directors President SHARON CHARETTE, right, presents the Art Award to CLARA L'HEUREUX.

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