Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 02-17-2021

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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8 PAWTUCKET FEBRUARY 17-23, 2021 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION is that the schools will pay down $1.6 million in expected school construction bond debt the city is on the hook for in the current fiscal year. "I greatly thank each of the members, specifically Chairman Charbonneau," said Mercer, for working within their parameters to help the city. School officials under- stood that their projected surplus of $2 million was largely a product of being in a distance learning situation for much of this fiscal year, he said, and that the city's deficit was directly impacted by a lack of revenue related to COVID-19 and beyond officials' control. He called this move "really good news" for the city and its taxpayers. The remaining $1 million budget hole is much more palatable to deal with, said Mercer, and city officials can now get down to the business of addressing it. Councilor Mark Wildenhain also thanked the school board at the Feb. 10 council meet- ing, saying it was nice to see the collaborative effort between the city and schools continue with the reverse aid. Everyone's hurting, he said, so this agreement was very important. As Charbonneau noted when the School Committee made its decision on Feb. 9 to help the city, he said, no education dollars will be taken away from schools. Former school board mem- ber and current Councilor Michael Araujo also thanked the School Committee, saying the collaboration was much appreciated. Schools returning money to cities is a rare occurrence in Rhode Island, where mainte- nance of effort laws require communities to maintain the prior year's funding lev- els. This agreement will not impact maintenance of effort in Pawtucket. Moran said Charbonneau "worked feverishly" to find a solution that was responsive to the city's needs. He recalled years past where the situation was reversed and the schools were seeking more money than they were allotted, often warning of legal action. This could be the first time that the School Department is helping the city, he said, "not in a neg- ative sense," but it shows that times change and common sense needs to prevail. "I thank them very much for that," he said. The Valley Breeze is committed to keeping quality news stories like this one free to our readers. You can be a huge part of this local journalism success story by making a one-time or monthly contribution to what we do every week at val- leybreeze.com/support. Thank you as always for reading. BUDGET From Page One City holding contest for Black History Month PAWTUCKET – The city of Pawtucket announces the launch of a contest and event honoring Black History month geared toward Pawtucket middle school students to submit a piece of their work – art, poetry, a paper, presen- tation, or other artistic expression – on what they feel best represents Black History Month. The topic could be on a person, event, place, or other topic that the student feels best embodies the message of Black History Month or best represents honoring the Black History Month. The competition will run through Feb. 22 calling for students to email their piece or a picture or video of it to Kassandra Florez, the community liaison for the city, at kflorez@paw- tucketri.com for the chance to be selected to discuss their piece and why they feel it best represents Black History Month with Mayor Donald Grebien on Feb. 25 via Zoom and to win a $50 gift card. The conversation will be shared on the city's website and social pages. "I am excited that we will be able to honor Black History Month this year while also being distant and safe," said Grebien. "This year we can get young members of our community involved through art or their own expression and highlight the importance of Black History Month. I want to thank Mixed Magic Theatre, the Pawtucket City Council, the Pawtucket School Committee and other community partners for helping us let students know of the opportunity and look forward to seeing all of their great work." The city encourages any student who is in middle school to participate and submit their piece by 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 22 to be entered. Those who have questions can email kflo- rez@pawtucketri.com. Three winners will be selected on Feb. 23. Apply for Champions in Action program PROVIDENCE – Citizens and NBC10 announced that they will be accepting applications under the bank's Champions in Action pro- gram from local nonprofit organizations that are focused on closing social equity and inclusion gaps within local communities through educa- tion, advocacy and relevant programming. The winner for the second half of 2021 will be announced in July. Organizations selected for inclusion in the program will receive financial, volunteer and public relations support to help further extend their reach and impact. Areas of focus for the program change twice-yearly. Eligible nonprofits typically work in collaboration with part- ners, neighborhood groups, schools, or other organiza- tions to address issues related to the chosen focus area that affect local communities. The nonprofit applying for the award should include specific and measurable goals for their program. Applications can be com- pleted online at https:// tinyurl.com/2zmojalb and must be submitted by Feb. 26.

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