With a slew of unanimous votes, the North Kingstown School Committee (absent Lynda Avanzato, Melvoid Benson and Bill Mudge) approved its routine items and most of the consent agenda with little discussion.
Despite the relatively smooth meeting, the committee hit some speed bumps – namely , next year's budget, and how to pay for infrastructure repairs, including the Davisville Middle School roof.
During Citizens Comments, Richard August said that the is unrealistic because there is no way that the schools will receive a 4 percent increase from the town, which faces budget problems of its own.
August said that the approved schools’ budget actually reflects increases over this year's budget, and he said he feels that point was not clear in school committee discussions.
School Committee member Larry Ceresi took exception to the comment and said that the school committee knows the approved budget is a "starting point."
"To think that we will get 4 percent is a dream," Ceresi said.
Ceresi said that the show the cuts that will be required if funding does not increase.
Auger said he has been receiving emails and phone calls from residents who have questions and suggestions about reducing the budget, and he is considering them all.
Richard Welch commented that one difficulty about the budget process is that while the town is required to approve the schools budget in spring, no one learns until June how much revenue the state will provide.
School Committee Chair Kimberly Page said that the approved budget is designed for community discussion. "We want parents to tell us what kind of education they want."
Committee members asked for more information on how many students participate in freshman high school sports, one candidate for cutting. They also asked what it would cost to fund a half-time physical plant supervisor and rescind the pay increases granted last year to other staff members who assumed the duties of that job when the full-time supervisor left.
Auger said that before the 8 p.m. committee meeting, he attended the Town Council meeting to ask whether the town would consider covering the cost of repairing the Davisville Middle School roof from the town's reserve account.
He said he was told to wait to see whether the community will approve a . Auger said he's been told the bond request was approved by the General Assembly and is expected to be approved by the governor.
Meanwhile, he said, he hopes to complete preliminary studies needed so that if the bond is approved or the town council provides funding, the project can be completed this summer, rather than "dragging on" for another year. The facilities subcommittee is reviewing proposals for an infrared roof scan, for example.
On a happier note, Auger said North Kingstown's scores in the most recent NECAP assessment were mostly positive and school staff will provide a detailed presentation on that at the next school committee meeting.
The committee also recognized North Kingstown High School senior Michael Grenier, who was selected as a 2012 Horatio Alger National Scholars, one of 105 winners from among 50,000 applicants