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Letter To The Editor: Budget Requires Immediate Resident Input

School Committee member tells residents not to wait until March to complain about a budget set in motion in October.

Next Monday, Oct. 17, the North Kingstown Town Council and the North Kingstown School Committee will meet in a joint session to discuss the upcoming budget forecast for the next budget beginning July 1, 2012.

This public meeting should be attended by every resident in North Kingstown, every man, woman and student to learn what the next year will bring. Now is the time for anyone who cares about their tax bill, child's education and what services might be on the cutting block for both the town and school department.
 
This is just the beginning of the process to get to a budget that we can afford, and what will remain for our town services and school programs. Not showing up will not change the eventual outcome. The input from our community will help guide both the Town Council and the School Committee as to what you want North Kingstown to be going forward.

Our budgets are affected by the same influences that you experience at home — increased cost of fuel to run the busses and heat the buildings, increases in electricity, increases in labor cost for employees and outside vendors, increases in health insurance premiums and food service supplies.
 
One thing that both the town and school department are facing is a very large payment required to pay pension benefits, which for the school department is approximately $2.2 million in 2012. The School Committee asked for this meeting earlier this year to get a head start on this budget and to let our residents know the financial problems that all of us are facing in the coming year. We will need as much time as possible to accomplish this task and I would ask anyone who has any suggestions on how we can save money operating our schools to please step forward with your ideas as soon as possible. Every School Committee member can be reached by e-mail, and this information is listed on the North Kingstown School Department website.
 
Please don't wait until March to get involved and complain about the changes that are going to happen. If you are going to be concerned in March, you need to be at the meeting on Monday evening at 6 p.m. at the North Kingstown Senior Center.
 
 
Richard Welch
North Kingstown School Committee

NKGOP Watch October 12, 2011 at 01:11 AM
Dick Welch is a great guy, and we all should attend, HOWEVER, no matter how you slice it, the union pension crisis is going to HURT US BAD. They gave the store away in years past, and n ow the bill is due along with basically an economic depression. Higher taxes, AND many things cut... unless pension benefits are cut down like in central falls, which is also harsh but it would keep our quality of life from ending up in the sewer.
Govstench October 12, 2011 at 12:46 PM
Unless a miracle takes place at Corruption Castle on Smth Hill, this town is going to run into some serious financial issues with pension payments. The school department budget needs to be cut back to core issues and eliminate the fluff. The town budget likewise, all the little pet projects and the like will need to be eliminated. Welch is correct when he indicated awhile ago that "we got the penality, let's ignore the mandate." There is way too much overhead on Education in this state and the country and all of that is just sucking money away from the students - injects too much politics into the process. People need to get involved with this process like they did with the windturbine fiasco. The town council needs to be watched very closely and bring pressure to bear when they start playing politics. People are in much financial pain today and government must learn to live within its means. The days of fancy new construction projects, town hall projects, and other whims are in the past. We need to look back to see how our parents dealt with hard times; make things last instead of replacing them. Lesson to be learned is that democrat policies of tax and spend just don't work.
trudy1 October 12, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Even after Halley left, is that the Superintendent who replaced him had no idea of thrift either.
Midlife Momma October 12, 2011 at 03:40 PM
It is great that Mr. Welch is putting this info out there now. One observation about the NKHS and it's college-like array of course selection: this kind of variety in class offerings has to come with a huge price tag. It is always nice to offer students extras such as advanced placement/honors level or special studies like music history, but right now there is only enough money for the basics....I suggest the SC/NKSD take a look at what courses are offered and why-there has to be money saved by eliminating some that are really nice to have vs what the nksd must have.....
jeff October 12, 2011 at 04:10 PM
These kids have seven periods to fill, and they won't run a class if there are not a certain number enrolled, and there are class size limits, so I don't see how course selection increases the cost of anything. I may be missing something here, but whether you put a bunch of kids in CP Biology or AP Biology, the class still needs a teacher. I may be missing something here --- you tell me.
Govstench October 12, 2011 at 08:55 PM
If we need to spell it out as to where the cuts could be done, so be it. CORE studies are those that are mandated to graduate. Sports, and other extra curricular activities could be removed to bring down the costs. Will the students complain? Yes. Will the parents complain? Yes. But with the ban on pay-to-play, and to reduce the budget further, these activities have to be curtailed. Will parents take their children out of the school system? Doubtful as where are they going to go, private school? That's not cheap. What people have to get their arms around is that the state government has dropped the ball and the municipalities are going to have to pick up the slack. You can complain to your legislators on Smith Hill, but this problem has been developing for decades and they chose to kick the can down the road. The can is at the end of a dead-end street! Now what?
john boscardin October 13, 2011 at 02:34 AM
I agree MLM, While the huge AP class offerings do help enhace a students transcripts when applying to colleges, Those classes may be a luxury that needs to be reviewed. It is important for the NKSD/SC to examine core educational responsibilities and distinguish between needs and wants; separate required from requested. All operational areas of the SD needs to be reviewed to determine or revisit staffing and workload benchmarks. No more sacred cows...all should be disected. That goes for the TC as well. They need to quit "whistling past the graveyard" and make the tough decisions on staffing, overtime, hours of operation, c.o.l.a.s, golf course, services provided...everything.
COL October 13, 2011 at 07:14 PM
Dear Mr. Welch, Please help us out. Please answer the following questions. Did the NKSD end with a surplus of deficit at the end of the last fiscal year? If yes, please tell us what was done with the surplus. Please have the school finance team list for us the top 10 items where the actual spending was less than the budgeted amount -- those are obvious areas where either efficiencies or overestimation occurred and good areas to reduce in the upcoming budgeted amount. Please explain why, if we know we have a $2+M pension payment upcoming, the percentage of that amount accruing from the extra teachers necessary to educate Jamestown students is not included in the tuition fee to Jamestown? Letters encouraging participation are great -- how about a letter with some actual facts to help us start helping you? These are not difficult questions to answer and would go a long way to showing this appeal is more than just for show.
NKGOP Watch October 14, 2011 at 04:29 AM
Maybe a school teacher in an essentially part time job, should not have a compensation package of $100k. Private schools pay HALF as much with no pension have no problem filling their teacher ranks with quality educators!
NKGOP Watch October 14, 2011 at 04:32 AM
who is "halley"? of that's right, the dirtbag who cheated special ed kids to have a 2 day mansion party in jamestown with special ed money. plus about 100 other misdeeds. NOW I remember. Thanks "trudy". idiot
Richard October 16, 2011 at 12:10 AM
Dear SC & TC, Let us simply say---CUT, CUT, CUT. Do as the real people of NK and elsewhere are forced to do. $1 in $1 out, not a penny more. Pension problems, no problem-layoffs. Let the union hierarchy explain how 1-2 does not=deficit. Here's a novel idea, I think its called living within your means, sorry I lost my mind, I forgot, this is government not reality. The taxpayers will bear it, I hear blood fetches a high price in municipal circles. I know, those terrible contracts, those overbearing state mandates, those, those whatevers! Force the issues, get some fortitude, try living outside the box and do the right thing for the NK taxpayers for a change. The taxpaying goose is DEAD.
Corrine December 05, 2011 at 01:25 PM
i can agree that this is a government not reality, but really "CUT, CUT, CUT"? I don't think that is necessary The programs that they will end up cutting will be the underfunded arts programs, which will help the budget but will end up turning bored teenagers to vandalism, or worse. Honestly. Their precious sports programs will be left in its glory and the orchestra, and the visual arts will be GONE. So there has to be a more realistic idea that benefits everyone not just the NK taxpayers
Corrine December 05, 2011 at 01:30 PM
true that!
NKGOP Watch December 05, 2011 at 07:53 PM
Not if they get peoples paychecks down to realistic levels like the rest of the world! Taxpayers have NO CLUE how much money is wasted by paying the help too much. Not to bash teachers, but they are OVERPAID to a degree. No private company would pay someone with skills and education (BA from RIC) like a school teacher 100 thousand dollars and then millions more after retirement. Come on!
Corrine January 12, 2012 at 01:54 PM
the taxpayers know that the majority of their taxes go to the"schools". everyone knows that teachers are overpaid, now only if the teachers could realize it. yesterday i presented my democracy project, which was on budget cuts. Programs that make nksd individual have been at risk of being cut. The amount of money being paid per teacher is more than it should be. With a tax increase, the school department will still be 1.6 million dolars in debt, making the increase pointless. My project was on trying to find a happy middle in the budget that the school department and the town council can agree on. Last night i spoke to a town council member and a school department member. They both agreed for a balance in the budget, and each were pretty skeptical that the other would agree to what they were saying. In other words they were agreeing while disagreeing! So a balance is a nice idea, but will it really happen? with support, and alot of it, we would be able to move step by step closer to the goal of a balanced budget. In other words balance in teacher payments, balance in sports funds, arts program funds, and afterschool program funds. In the long run who knows what might happen. With a lot of support going to town council meetings, the town council will see that this town cares about these programs that make NK unique.

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