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Council Adopts 2013 Budget

The school department's budget dominated the council's meeting to adopt the 2013 budget.

The North Kingstown Town Council unanimously passed fiscal 2013’s budget, set to start July 1 of this year, at its meeting Tuesday night. The new budget will increase the tax levy by 2.08 percent, raising property tax rates from $17.26 for every $1,000 to $17.53 – an average annual increase of $90 for the average household’s tax bill in North Kingstown.

The budget also grants the school department a two-percent increase after two years of level-funding. Despite the increase, the school department’s bottom line budget will be $848,349* less than the current year’s budget. The council came to the smaller figure after factoring in its number to offset the (a matter the town is seeking clarification on from the court following Superior Court Judge Brian Stern’s decision last month) and a reduction in projected state aid.

State aid, which was projected at $10,812,936 in the governor’s initial proposed budget, has been decreased by $624,936. According to Town Finance Director Trish Sunderland, a supplemental appropriation will be made if more state aid is distributed to the district.

Originally, the school department had requested a . At Monday night’s council meeting, School Committee Chair Kimberly Page told council members that the difference between the four-percent increase and a two-percent increase was the difference between “mediocre schools and high-achieving schools.”

“If money is the difference in excellence, then the entire state is in trouble because there’s a train wreck coming and we need to start looking at alternatives,” said Council Member Carol Hueston.

According to Superintendent Phil Auger, an appropriation less than that would result in cuts to school extracurricular programs – . Council members believed that cuts could be made elsewhere in the school’s budget to avoid the elimination of those programs.

“I think those savings can be achieved by the school department in ways that don’t impact music and sports,” said Council Member Charles Stamm.

Additionally, the council did not fund the schools’ capital reserve fund, citing the lack of organization and preparation regarding improvement project by the school department as one of the reasons.

“I don’t believe the school committee and school department have done a good job of bringing their projects forward,” said Stamm. “I’m kind of reluctant to put $500,000 into a well and not know what the deuce they’re going to do with it.”

A further motion was unanimously passed that will allow the council to authorize the “strict enforcement” of a section of the town’s charter, which allows the town manager to review and revise allotments of town offices, departments and agencies to “forestalls the making of expenditures in excess of income.” According to Town Manager Michael Embury, the measure “reaffirms” the town’s stance in its most recent legal battle with the school department over its projected revenue deficit.


2011-2012 Budget 2012-2013 Budget Difference General Fund $24,929,211 $26,199,621 +$1,270,410 School Fund

*$58,092,043

$57,243,694 -$624,936 Debt Service $5,493,088 $5,484,654 -$8,434 Library Fund $1,420,732 $1,465,091 +$44,359 Municipal Court $247,928 $258,354 +$10,429 School Capital Reserve $117,300 $0 -$117,300 Water Fund $3,096,381 $3,212,163 +$115,882 Quonset/Davisville Recreation Fund $1,792,549 $1,744,386 -$48,163 TOTAL $92,899,823 $95,607,925

*The school department's appropriation for fiscal 2012 was altered by the town to offset a projected deficit. The school's spending plan was slashed by $266,624, making the appropriation $57,825,419. The town and school department are seeking clarification from Judge Brian Stern following his ruling to determine the correct appropriation for the school department.

NKGOP Watch May 07, 2012 at 02:52 PM
"NK Voter" and "Concerned Resident" are IDEOLOGUES because this school committee has done NUMEROUS cost cutting initiatives over the past 3 or 4 budget cycles including pioneering labor concessions and other efforts. I agree that outsourcing opportunities were NOT decided yet because the community of steady employees that the kids deal with each day, being replaced by "contractors" and "contract workers" may not be worth the savings. And there may be labor concessions to keep the school community intact. The schools have done a pretty decent job. Its INTERESTING how the NKGOP stooges like Charlie "scamm" on the Town Council throw bombs that "we could save sports with other cuts" BUT WONT ever cite the cuts they claim to be available.
Paul Marshall May 07, 2012 at 02:56 PM
What "common sense" is there in a poorly written satire based on bad behavior. Quoting fictional tv character Cliff Claven as a source of wisdom? OUCH! Hit the clicker. Open a book, pal. And, hey, I'm not hiding behind a phoney "pen-name". These are serious times and we need serious people to deal with them.
Paul Marshall May 07, 2012 at 03:10 PM
"mineas well"...what language is that? "mineas" ....turn off the televison....yikes!
Joe Smith May 07, 2012 at 03:11 PM
NKGOP - If you look at enrollment and teacher reports (the end of the town budget documents have them along with employee counts), then enrollment is down slightly and teachers (which includes counselors, etc) are slightly.up. However, in fairness, if federal and/or state aid is up, then school expenditures in * total * will rise as well so the percent of education as a total of the town's expenditures would rise as well. The question I think you have is that due to town tax contributions or other revenue. I would suggest looking at Table 3 of the Annual Financial Report -- it shows a net cost of services that takes out department revenues (like Jamestown tuition in the case of NKSD) so only the expenses supported by tax revenue and state aid. For education, you can note: 2010: $43.8M in net exp out of the town net of $70.9M = 61.8% (net) 2011: $45.6M in net exp out of the town net of $73.4M = 62.1% (net) Page 7 pretty much explains why for the gainers and losers on net -- for education it states the bulk was due to $1.3M increase in salaries and benefits. Again, there is an issue about how to judge the school department surplus. For the town, obviously the increase in surplus helps with the overall bond rating and general idea to have a roughly 10% surplus of total expenditures. Why does the school need to run a surplus -- should some of that $3.3 maybe have been used to take care of some maintenance issues? .
Paul Marshall May 07, 2012 at 03:22 PM
The SC's cowardly capitulation to the Teachers Unions is the real problem here. Welch, in this blog last month, stated renegotiating with them is "too difficult". Isn't that HIS job? Let's face it. We're going broke FAST! How is spending more than they are budgeted OK? Especially when our state is going BANKRUPT. At last count 20 of our 39 communities is broke! (It will affect us) Now the SC allows even more spending, ignores TWO empty buildings and threatens parents with "cuts to sports and arts" (Maybe some of the "programs should be cut???) Not to mention the SHRINKING POPULATION of students and parents! And the kids who move away-NEVER to return. How is this the TC's fault? It's NOT. (But the liberals will blame Halley anyway!) Truth: The democRATS got us into this disaster statewide. Title 16 nonsense allowing the schools to have ridiculous autonomy will kill us. When will the silent majority of Taxpayers catch on? We're being gamed. No amount of foul-mouthed bloviating and personal attacks by anonymous bloggers like Linda here is going to stop it. We have to Cut Spending and Lower Taxes.
Concerned Resident May 07, 2012 at 03:29 PM
@Joe: as with the majority of NK residents, I am and continue to be appreciative of your efforts to educate the chosen few and in this case "one". FYI - The individual you are corresponding flip flops depending on the subject. The individual you are corresponding lives in the past with an imaginary ax to grind. The individual you are corresponding looks to attract the unsuspecting into a continuous loop. I recently joined a group or residents that ignore his posts. Again, thanks for the great and informational post's reinforcing what many NK residents believe.
Paul Marshall May 07, 2012 at 03:33 PM
As our national economy continues to crumble and the liberals like you are busy with phoney statistics, the Wall STreet Journal regularly reports on the shrinking of government in states which are succeeding in dealing with reality. "More state aid"??? Survey says: .."eeerrrrgggghhhhhtttttt!" Wrong again, my vitriol spewing Warwick resident. With a shrinking school population TWO empty schools and courses that haven't been updated/modernized in decades tell us again how wonderfully well the SC is doing....hmmmmmm
Paul Marshall May 07, 2012 at 03:42 PM
This home values argument is BULL. Home values are based on supply and demand. No jobs in the area, no demand. There are 3000 people a month moving into Williamson County Texas. Why? (Wait for it....) JOBS. People vote with their feet, pal. They go where the money is. Where their future is. Think it's here? Think again. Read the obituaries. Where are peoples' kids? OUT of state. Why? JOBS. Drive the neighborhoods mid-day/mid-week. See all the cars in the driveways? There's a person connected to those cars inside the houses! What are they doing? NOT working!! This is the product of CLASS WARFARE and phoney SOCIAL JUSTICE. The democRATS have driven off the employers and our state is collapsing into a burning heap! To add insult to injury--the democRATS have allowed the "SNOW-BIRDS" to escape to Florida for 6 months and a day (yeah right) and become a phoney out-of-state resident so they can avoid income taxes! STOP VOTING DEMOCrat.
Paul Marshall May 07, 2012 at 03:48 PM
CR is right. 2% is MUCH more than this out-of-control group deserves. They won't take on thre Teachers Unions but they WILL come after the kids?! (With threats to cut 'programs') WTF??? Maybe we should cut sports? Replace football with something that is less damaging to our kids' health? How many kids have to limp through life, or like star football fullback on the Westerly championship teams (73-74) John Murano, suffer repeated head injuries and become a late-life brain injury patient. This is a serious discussion that we need to have. Now would be a good time to have it.
Paul Marshall May 07, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Thank you. This won't satisfy her, however. Don't confuse her with the facts: shrinking population. Shrinking school enrollment. TWO empty schools (we have to pay to maintain). Crumbling economy. 53% of state now BANKRUPT. Joblessness skyrocketing (how's that for "hope&change"?) These folks continue to run on the "legacy" plan for higher office. (I spent this and we got that done 'for the town')... SAD.
Paul Marshall May 07, 2012 at 03:55 PM
The only thing appalling here is your lame attempt at "the big lie". If you tell the lies enough, someone may believe you. Survey:....."Errrrrggggghhhhhttttt!" no sale.
Paul Marshall May 07, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Honesty is NOT something you'll get from NKGOPWATCH. I mean, who hides behind a pen name like that, anyway? Someone with a grudge?
NKGOP Watch May 08, 2012 at 01:26 AM
I'll check that all out.
NKGOP Watch May 08, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Constipated Resident you wish. I have been in this town since long before the fiscal recklessness of the NKGOP's Halley and Kerbel, been here for and as part of the cleanup, and I will stay with it until the job is done. Then I will retire here. LIFELONG RESIDENT, not an interloper such as yourself and most of these remaining holdout NKGOP hacks that dont get it yet. Since you claim that you "recently joined a group or residents that ignore his posts" that is a lie, there is no cross communication on here. You're just connected with the NKHACKS and you people are pissed that residents like myself actually get it with crystal clarity who is ruining this town and how, and we say so here and other places. Do you read my editorials in the paper? The cat is out of the bag, and the town is getting fixed one issue and one hack at a time.
Concerned Resident May 08, 2012 at 12:21 PM
@Joe: and all others.......I truly enjoy being proven correct, I rest my case.
NK_Voter May 08, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Spot on, CR.
Common Sense May 08, 2012 at 02:41 PM
For those that care to check the record, this S/C has tried to change many things that have been around for years; Phil T. asked for and was supported by some on the S/C to outsource food service, grounds maintenance and janitorial but the chair could not get Mudge, Thomson, Benson or Page to vote for a proposal and this request was made several times. Don't paint the entire S/C with the same brush. The non-certifed union is now in the last days of non-arbitration. The super has said that changes will happen, be patient. The T/C's budget is actually about $700,000 less that the current budget. Maybe you should all attend the S/C meeting tonight and listen to what members say and how they vote. I am personally upset that the T/C is using tax dollars to sue the S/C with money that could be better used for education. Check out the legal bills and ask why we need to be in court alll the time. If the S/D doesn't give raises why is the T/C? Changes in enrollment don't necessarily create savings: eight schools with 14 levels of education to spread out the enrollment changes. Can't shut off heat, light, close another school mean while blue cross, pensions and labor contracts go up. One more year for teachers and ESP contract has expired. Changes are coming.
NKGOP Watch May 08, 2012 at 02:45 PM
"I am personally upset that the T/C [TOWN COUNCIL] is using tax dollars to sue the S/C with money that could be better used for education. Check out the legal bills and ask why we need to be in court alll the time." DAMN STRAIGHT, ITS THE TOWN COUNCIL, THEY HAVE TO GO! DO IT FOR THE KIDS!
Concerned Resident May 08, 2012 at 03:39 PM
@Common Sense: as you indicate, the SC has not been able to implement cost saving changes - unfortunately the TC has put them in a position where as they now need to implement savings. The TC sued the SC to stop - prevent SC projected deficit spending. I will ask that in the event that the SD was allowed to continue spending in the red that would be responsible...........remember other city and towns with school deficit issues. Not that I am in favor of town pay increases but I believe that the SD has longevity step in pay increases. Decrease in student population is about the only method allowing for decreased SD budget cuts. You are correct in much of your post, I’m am hopeful that prudent and effective changes are on the way. To close I will add that be it town or schools, cost saving should be an item that is continually reviewed, not just when there is an issue.
Common Sense May 08, 2012 at 04:09 PM
CR unless you have an inside source that would say to the contrary the T/C has not put the S/C in any position other than to spend education $''s on legal fees. S/C record is clear about changes requested to ESP contract. S/C should put the T/C in a position to meet the results of their collective progress which to date they have not even come close. You should be asking why they are giving raises @ 2% and why the police budget went up $1 million yet fewer police. Why not questions the town side about what they have done?
NKGOP Watch May 08, 2012 at 04:31 PM
I should add to the above post the 2% raises are for the TOWN COUNCIL side of the budget as is the police increase. ALL raises should have been stopped in sept 2008 when we went into depression and ON HOLD until the dust settles which hasnt happened yet! (Fed budget still borrows ALMOST HALF its dollars each year!). THIS COUNTRY *CAN* GO BANKRUPT. Slowly or quickly it WILL happen if we dont match spending to what the economy can afford for tax burden.
Concerned Resident May 08, 2012 at 04:41 PM
CS, gotta love when an individual feels that one wrong deserves another. Unlike the majority of NK residents it's apparent where your loyalty lies as I'm guessing you feel that allowing SD deficit spending is ok. The TC is ultimately protecting residents from kings and queens of the SC. Let me know if you need links to articles regarding many city and town SD issues resulting in city and town's crisis. I for one am against any and all tax increases let alone a 13% forced increase! In the meantime, I continue to wait and wait and wait and wait for improvements to the SD budget.
NKGOP Watch May 08, 2012 at 04:46 PM
And I would like to add that this town council IS THE PROBLEM, and I dont blame our school system for not trusting them. I think the schools have been way too nice while the council politicizes the kids future.
Joe Smith May 08, 2012 at 07:37 PM
It would be helpful if the management wrote shorter executive summaries by department/general categories. In looking at the budgets on line, it seems that the retirement/pension outcome aside, health care costs are going up at an unsustainable rate (especially given that most town employees I believe pay a share equal with private sector counterparts -- the ESP workers maybe the exception). I do commend the NKSD for having a set of budget notes and assumptions that do give some overall perspective -- it would be nice perhaps for the TC and the SC to perhaps collaborate in Dec on budget guidance instead of suing each other. I know the proposed budget has detail by school, but why not treat each school like a "subsidiary" in the more public forums? I'm not sure how close the Supt 2013 initial budget is to the currently adopted one, but some of the school staff/FTE ratios raise some issues that it would be nice to have the S/C address. For example, Fishing Cove has a 5 to 1 ratio that includes the pre-K/Full K numbers. In looking at the detailed numbers and taking out the pre-K enrollment (since those parents pay a fee) and corresponding teachers, the student/staff ratio declines evens more to below 5. Meanwhile, Forest Park, when you compare to the Fishing Cove adjusted enrollment, has about the same enrollment, but has a student/staff ratio that is 50% higher than FC! Note - The NKSD budget shows total enrollment declining by 5% more from 2012 to 2014.
NKGOP Watch May 09, 2012 at 02:35 AM
I have found over the years that student/staff ratio can (usually does) have good rationale and you usually dont find a smoking gun there. Enrollment declines only translate into savings at break points, for example when pupil counts drop enough you can have one less teacher, or close a school. One thing I look at is Jamestown tuition which finally was acknowledged this year as an issue (after over TEN YEARS of controversy and no solution), and another is outsourcing the Cafeteria, Transportation, and Janitorial services - or gaining substantial concessions. But then, where are TEACHER concessions? Oh sure they pay more health copays now, but compared to private schools where the teachers have to be just as qualified, the RI union school teacher is dramatically overcompensated. (and under-producing which is the fault of management AND the droll, self-centered workforce culture created when unions had too much success).
NKGOP Watch May 09, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Constipated Resident's tactics of diversion are all too obvious. CS you ask GREAT questions and the Town Council has created legal costs and conflict while not addressing their own spending hikes. Constipated Resident MUST be on that Town Council because the diversion tactics mirror each other. The problem in NK is THE TOWN COUNCIL.
NKGOP Watch May 09, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Not germane to spending, but this is interesting by whomever it is... http://ri-can.org/learn/reportcards/results?school=Elementary+School&category=field_reportcard_goal_value&submit=District
Govstench May 09, 2012 at 10:33 AM
Eh, if you have not noticed, another bon fire has just errupted. This time it is West Warwick. Pension fund will break the town in 5 years. The sink hole is moving south.
Joe Smith May 09, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Ref: RI-Can scorecard. "This year the report cards do not include writing or science scores for any schools." - One problem with the rankings RI-CAN’s report cards provide a single score to help readers compare schools and subgroups within those schools. To do so, we calculate a school’s “at or above proficiency” score according to state standards by taking the average percentage of students at or above proficient across math and reading on the NECAP. For elementary schools, we use the results from the fifth-grade test level). Look at the # 1 rated school (Compass) vs. NK. We actually have 2 elementary school that tie or beat Compass in terms of Reading/Math mean scores and only have 4% not proficient in math. We also have an elementary school that is 14 points lower (mean) in math and a 37% not proficient rate in math. Single measure based just on level can mask in districts issues between schools and also do not capture large variation in degree of performance (high performers vs marginal). That's what I mean by treating each school like a subsidiary -- The schools with the lower student/staff ratios are actually lower performing than the ones with higher, not to mention on a PPE basis. When does the S/C start asking what is working in the higher performing schools to help focus resource decisions? Instead we get salami slice cuts without any analytical linkage to factors impacting student performance or individual school accountability.
NKGOP Watch May 15, 2012 at 03:11 AM
A lot of the student teacher ratio and performance results from the demographic of what type of kids attend that particular school. You cant take a school with lots of less affluent students, and say that schools lower average scores is a result of too many teachers! As far as "looking at high performing school to see how they do it" is meaningless within a district, because most often what they "did" to have higher scores was to be in the right neighborhood with higher educated parents and stay at home moms, for example.

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