The North Kingstown School Committee will start to put items on the chopping block Tuesday night after the will leave them with less funding than last year.
Going into the budget process, Superintendent Phil Auger requested a four-percent increase for the school department's budget after two years of level funding. At its adoption of the upcoming budget, the council granted the school department a two-percent increase.
"I appreciate the two percent," said Auger. "It's not an easy decision to make and it's a lot to ask for four percent. Obviously I felt very strongly that four percent was warranted. It's going to make things that much tougher to make ends meet in our district."
Due to a projected lower contribution from state aid and the readjustment of this year's school department budget by the town (), the school department's appropriation will be anywhere between $581,725 and $848,349 less than this year's figure. School officials will have to wait for contact negotiations between the district and the Educational Support Professionals (ESP) to finish and the final amount from state aid yet to be determined (both expected around June, according to Auger) before the final school department appropriation is known.
Due to inflation and the appropriation from the town council, Auger says the district will have to make approximately $2.8 million in cuts from this year to next year. So far, Auger has made $1.4 million in cuts. On Tuesday night, the committee will discuss the other $1.4 million.
"It's going to be hard to avoid going into areas that people really love – ," said Auger.
During their meeting to adopt the budget, council members voiced their beliefs that cuts could be made to the schools' budget that would not result in the elimination of athletics and arts programs. Auger says the committee will look at cutting teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and lastly programs to fill the $1.4 million void.
"We're going to try to do this without sacrificing those programs, but you get to a certain point where there's nothing else," said Auger, who added that only roughly nine percent of the schools' budget is discretionary and not tied up by contracts and state and federal mandates.
The North Kingstown School Committee will meet Tuesday, May 8 at 7 p.m. at