Paolucci to lead while committee is out

Paolucci to lead while committee is out

Not taking any risks, the sparsely attended School Committee meeting on Monday night saw a change in furniture as the usual arm-rest-to-arm-rest chairs were separated for social distancing to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. School Committee members, too, distanced their chairs from one another during the meeting. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

SMITHFIELD – Projects such as the elementary school reconfiguration, the bus contract and food services will not go unpaid during the month-long period of no local meetings, as the School Committee has granted Supt. Judy Paolucci authority in the interim.

The deal was part of a continuation of operations plan approved by the committee Monday night ensuring that payroll, bills, and mental health needs are still met while school personnel works from home.

Paolucci said the plan is thoughtful despite being put together quickly. With the coronavirus overtaking every conversation, she said, everything is changing minute by minute.

“Function will remain if someone is ill and cannot go to work,” she said.

Paolucci explained that bills will pop up in the next month that will incur late fees if not made on time.

She allowed the School Committee to set the terms should she need to make decisions or pay bills while the committee is not holding meetings. The committee agreed that Paolucci can pay bills and do other essential functions, such as sign or negotiate contracts after discussion with members Rose Marie Cipriano and Richard Iannitelli.

“I feel comfortable, a weak comfortable, that we put this into place for the next two meetings,” Cipriano said.

The agreement will be void should the committee decide to hold meetings online or in person. There are no remaining school board meetings scheduled in March, and the committee canceled the first April meeting as well.

“Things may get worse and we might not be able to do this (hold a meeting) for some reason,” Paolucci said.

Iannitelli pointed to the approved fiscal year 2020-2021 budget, and said the committee is running out of time to review it before the Financial Town Meeting in May. He said he wants to be sure members meet before then.