School Committee Cuts Freshman Sports, Gymnastics & Hockey

Contentious debate filled Tuesday night's meeting as the School Committee passed $1.6 million in cuts.

After delaying action , the North Kingstown School Committee made $1.6 million in cuts to make up a $2.7 million shortfall for the fiscal 2013 budget.

The two most controversial of these cuts were the removal of s for a total savings of $46,050. Superintendent Phil Auger noted that the latter two were cut due to “higher relative cost and lower relative participation.”

“I hope that we’re going to run those sports next year but it is my hope to do so with private funds,” said Auger.

Early in the discussion, Vice Chairman Richard Welch suggested keeping the sports programs but nixing two positions that Auger wanted to add for the upcoming year — a fulltime special education paraprofessional ($35,000) and a part-time business partnerships coordinator at the high school ($37,000). Welch suggested using the funding for those new positions to instead fund the sports programs that were on the chopping block. According to Auger, the business partnership coordinator would work with businesses and raise money to support extracurricular programs at the school.

“I think that’s pretty forward thinking,” said School Committee Member John Boscardin. “That could help us support sports for years to come.”

After Welch’s motion was shot down, the committee moved on to pass the superintendent’s list of reductions as proposed. Committee Member Bill Mudge said he would not be voting on any cuts that night, asserting that Auger’s figures were “incorrect” and that making any decision that night would be “ludicrous.” The gavel came out during the contentious debate as Chairwoman Kimberly Page attempted to quell Mudge, at one point muting the microphones.

The $2.7 million in cuts is a compilation of inflation, . (The smaller allocation was due to a projected change in state aid and the department’s deficit woes earlier this year.) According to Auger, the $2.7 million may shrink once state aid is finalized and when the school department settles an arbitration case with the Educational Support Professionals union which, combined, could amount to an additional $1.6 million back in the schools’ piggybank.

Other cuts made Tuesday night included reductions to music and arts programming and supplies ($15,000), reducing supplies district-wide ($134,000), cutting two teachers from the high school ($125,000), cutting a library clerk and a library from the high school ($50,000), cutting an elementary school teacher ($62,500), transferring transitional students from Perspectives to an in-house program ($100,000) and more. Check the full list of cuts here.

The measure was passed 4-3, with Mudge, Boscardin and Melvoid Benson opposing.

COL May 23, 2012 at 06:42 PM
This is in the Supt proposal - Transfer from Fund Balance to CIP Fund 350,000 This clearly means there is 350K of surplus expected now from FY 12 (so much for the deficit) -- building up the CIP fund may be a worthy goal, but the S/C could have used some of that money instead of making some of these cuts. It strikes me that the reason that funding is there is because people expect the 1.6M difference between the S/C requested budget and the T/C approved one to be made up as noted by the Supt. Seems like politics instead of being transparent with the citizens. Why even have this vote before the state budget is approved? Making the list is prudent, but acting on it prematurely just seems for theatrics. Additionally, Samantha - you should be more accurate about the "2.7M" shortfall. The S/C submitted an app. $58.7M budget to the Town Council. That is the FY 2013 proposed budget. The Town Council approved earlier in the month $57.2M, resulting a $1.5M shortfall. As was noted by the Supt and also in Mudge's letter printed in the Patch, there is a high expectation of getting $1.6M if the currently proposed state aid level for NK is appropriated and from ESP concessions. The 2.7M comes from the Supt initial budget, which was reduced by both him and the majority of the S/C. Thus, it seems very inaccurate to report a "2.7M" shortfall in the FY 2013 budget. Shouldn't you be using the figures from *approved* budgets?
Dave May 24, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Col, do you really think it's responsible to count on that extra money in the Governor's budget coming in? That's is no way to run a budget. Please remember the TC said it was not, and cut that money from the budget. You can't have it both ways. You say the figures from the approved budget should be used but when the SC uses that number from the town, you say they don't have to make the cuts! The schools are getting cut off by the town, and the town makes no effort to save money or cut anything in their budget. That's not the way to run a town.
Concerned Resident May 24, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Seems that per last nights SC meeting, they are looking to take advantage of (some unfortunate) savings that will ultimately improve the SD situation.....long time in coming.
Dave May 24, 2012 at 01:30 AM
CR, just wondering what you mean by unfortunate savings that will improve the situation....what happened at the meeting?
Concerned Resident May 24, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Unfortunate savings that directly affects students i.e. elimination of extra curriculum activities.
Dark star May 25, 2012 at 09:08 PM
agree with you WT. Freshman sports while a nice thing to have, is a luxury we must do without.


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