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School Budget Cuts Remain Unsettled

School committee reviewed superintendent's recommendations, but did not agree on actions that would cut teachers, supplies and five high school sports.

Not orange. Not green. Not red. After two hours of discussion and comments from 10 citizens, the North Kingstown School Committee declined 3-3 to approve budget cuts or additions in any category at its May 8 meeting. Larry Ceresi was absent, recovering from back surgery, said Chair Kimberly Page.

With the North Kingstown Town Council increasing the school’s fiscal year 2013 budget by rather than the requested 4 percent, the schools face a shortfall of $848,349 from this year’s budget, due in part to inflation and less of a contribution from state aid.

In response, Superintendant Phil Auger grouped his recommended changes into three color-coded categories designed to shrink the budget to the approved $57,243,694.

The orange category summarizes expenditure changes to the 2013 budget since the school committee originally . These include an estimated food service fund deficit of $186,405, health insurance rate increases of $88,650, criminal background checks on school volunteers totaling $5,000 and $15,000 for texts not funded in the governor’s budget. These expenses were partially offset by reductions in dental insurance, increased early retirements, cutting unused funds, and other savings, for a total of $105,611 in added costs.

The green category has 36 changes designed to wring out $1.2 million in savings. Among them are proposals to reduce teaching positions, transfer teaching positions, cut supplies to the levels actually used this year, cut two buses, reduce the high school library staff, eliminate freshman sports, and eliminate : hockey, tennis, gymnastics, swimming and golf.

Auger said the targeted sports include both male and female athletes, have relatively high costs and relatively low participation, and could continue with private funding, like current teams such as sailing.

The green category also has two new positions: a special education paraprofessional and a part-time “business partnership coordinator” who would build relationships between the schools and the business community and seek advertising, grants and sponsorships. Several committee members and citizens voiced support for the partnership position.

A third category of cuts (the "red" category) totaling $1.6 million will be necessary if state funding, to be announced in June, does not meet expectations and if the schools do not reach a satisfactory contract with the education support professionals union. The labor negotiations are in arbitration.

The red category proposes cut that include eliminating all middle and high school sports and clubs ($484,232), removing four custodians and maintenance workers ($251,497), reducing professional development stipends by 75 percent ($111,963), removing a bus route and eliminating the late bus ($70,000), cutting an elementary school music teacher ($62,500) and reducing support staff, counselors and other positions.

When the meeting adjourned at 10:15 p.m., Auger said he was a little surprised that no action had been taken on the orange and green categories, but there is still plenty of time before the fiscal year begins July 1.

NKGOP Watch May 10, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Scott EXACTLY!
Common Sense May 10, 2012 at 03:22 PM
J. S. your statement re:collaborative workshop, had me wonder why I didn't remember a discussion on this and checked with a S/C member and that person didn't remember it either. Could you enlighten us as to what you are talking about and how you came by the information that you are refering to. But just to continue this subject a little, why would anyone be interested in sitting with a group that has taken legal action against you, constantly mis-speaks about the facts and reallly feels as you do about schools, teachers and the S/C. It is good to be upset about our taxes, fine, but we need to keep the truth in the discussion. There is plenty of blame to go around J. S. it just depends whether you have blinders on, your rose colored glasses or are willing to see the facts as they are and work to make changes. I see five people trying their best to correct things and move forward all while you and others want to put them down, congradulations you have succeeded. Supporting your S/C and Dr. Auger does not mean that you agree with everything but thoughfull suggestions regarding your concerns would go a long way towards improving relations and moral which also reflects on the staff and students.
NKGOP Watch May 10, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Since McQwin and Bee took the NKTO over from Dr Camarra, they have been over-attacking the school board and ignoring the town council, lost membership and respect and the only question the new NKTO owners seem to produce is "what is your point". Sad. The town council is the real problem here and there is no credible, respectable watch dog.
NKGOP Watch May 10, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Wow well said. I was starting to believe JS and now it is really discouraging to think it is NKTO/McGwin or whomever not playing straight with basic facts. TRUTH PLEASE. I am of course known for hyperbole but I never try to confuse the two. If you are stating a FACT please make sure it is TRUE and an OPINION (like mine that the Town Council and NKGOP are the problem) is just that, an OPINION. But we ALL need to respect the TRUTH and TRUE FACTS. Joe Smith are you hearing me?
Concerned Resident June 04, 2012 at 08:12 PM
an alternative solution: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/01/louisiana-makes-bold-bid-_n_1563900.html?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl11%7Csec3_lnk2%26pLid%3D166752

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