Chairmen discuss need, importance of joint East Providence Council-Committee meeting

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EAST PROVIDENCE — The oft-planned and much-talked about joint meeting between the East Providence City Council and School Committee is finally set to take place Tuesday evening, Sept. 24, in the City Hall Chamber at 6:30 p.m.

The respective leaders of the boards, Council President James Briden and Committee Chairman Joel Monteiro, each discussed their expectations for the gathering, which will likely focus on the current status of the school department’s infrastructure and the fragile accreditation status of East Providence High School.

“We’ve been looking forward to this for a while,” Mr. Monteiro said of the forum. “We need to talk about the high school accreditation and some of the other needs at the high school. We’re also going to talk about the work we’ve completed on our facilities and the work that still needs to go on.

“I don’t know what’s going to come from it, but at the very least I’d like to be able to gauge the understanding they (the Council) have of the seriousness of the situation. Hopefully the outcome is that we can communicate better with each other.
That should be a given, but I don’t think it every really is.”

The first of what are likely at least a couple of workshops to discuss the proposed Fiscal Year 2013-14 budget for the city follows the joint session, the two going hand-in-hand according to Mr. Briden.

“I think it’s important to meet with the School Committee. I think it’s good that we’re doing so,” Mr. Briden said. “I believe we’re going to get some significant information from the joint meeting that will fit together with some of the issues we’ll be discussing at the workshop.”

Mr. Monteiro echoed Mr. Briden’s comments, saying the City Council needs the input from the School Committee and Superintendent Kim Mercer when formulating its fiscal plan.

“I think there are issues on both the city and school sides that play a role with each other, like the one we have with the facilities,” Mr. Monteiro added. “I would like to see us walk out of the meeting with at least an open line of communication.”

“I know from the superintendent’s standpoint, she’s looking for an understanding on the part of the council on what we need to do with our facilities going forward, especially at the high school. We need to communicate about where things are throughout the system and where they need to be. There’s only so much the superintendent can do on her own. At some point she needs to here someone on the city side say we’ve got your back.”

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