Town, School Department to Appear in Court This Afternoon

A judge will rule on the legality of town officials halting school spending.


Representatives and lawyers from both the town and school department will appear in Washington County Court today as a judge rules on whether the town has the legal right to halt school spending. That hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Earlier this week, the town sent a memorandum to the North Kingstown School Committee urging them not to enter into any contracts or make any additional expenditures after news broke that the school department may face a $1.2-million deficit.

Thursday morning, Town Manager Michael Embury, School Superintendent Phil Auger, Council President Elizabeth Dolan and School Committee Chair Kim Page met to discuss the possible deficit. According to Dolan, the council has agreed to pay for a "quick" outside audit of the school department's finances to help find a solution. The audit could cost in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $40,000.

jeff December 17, 2011 at 02:26 AM
The Town sued the School Committee. And the School Department, by statute, is not governed by the Town.
Govstench December 17, 2011 at 01:03 PM
Here is a nice number to ponder on - $34.5 Million in OPEB pension liability. The town hasn't paid a red cent on cutting this number. All the other pension are managed by the state MERS plans, but this town has just this one plan and they are kicking the can on it. Ask Dolan what is going on with this one! I love it when they pick on the SC but look the other way on their own issues.
Govstench December 18, 2011 at 12:58 AM
Jeff, you are partially right....The SC is not governed by the town but by the people who put them there. There is a state law, 16-2-9 General powers and duties of school committees. – (a) The entire care, control, and management of all public school interests of the several cities and towns shall be vested in the school committees of the several cities and towns. When a TC does not give the SC adquate funding to carry out this requirements of the statute, they can sue the town council for more money. The Caruolo Act was enacted but has failed to deliver the $$!
Govstench December 18, 2011 at 12:59 AM
The TC and Manager also have a law § 16-9-1 Receipt and payment of school funds by town treasurer. – The town treasurer shall receive the money due the town from the state for public schools, and shall keep a separate accounting of all money appropriated by the state or town or otherwise for public schools in the town, and shall pay the money to the order of the school committee; provided, however, that school expenditures, encumbrances, and accruals shall not, in any fiscal year, exceed the total revenue appropriated for public schools in the town. Should the town treasurer, finance director, or other charter officer charged with general responsibility for town finances, or the school financial officer, estimate that actual public school expenditures, encumbrances, and accruals may exceed the total revenue appropriated for the expenditures in any fiscal year, the school committee, the superintendent of schools, and the chief elected officials of the town shall be notified. Purchase orders or financial commitments shall not be authorized even on the order of the school committee unless it can be proven that there will not be an excess of expenditures, encumbrances, and accruals over revenues. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit a school committee from negotiating and contracting with school employees and teachers for services to be rendered in the ensuing fiscal years pursuant to chapters 9.3 and 9.4 of title 28.
Govstench December 18, 2011 at 01:01 AM
I personally think the SC has the edge on this but both parties have to start trimming the spending. The difficulty with cuts in municipal budgets, as I have been arguing all year, is that there are very few pain-free areas to cut. Personnel cuts are ugly, and along with modifications to health care benefits these cuts pose the risk of emotionally charged and distracting media coverage. Deferring capital infrastructure projects is a temporary remedy at best and potentially sets the stage for more serious budgetary pressures in years to come, as regular maintenance needs, if deferred long enough, become emergency needs. Cuts in non-essential services seem pain-free until we realize that libraries and community centers would be on the chopping block, and the quality of life issues associated with communities no longer able to afford these services cannot be ignored. In reducing local government expenditures there is no free lunch; local government officials have been given the joyless task of desperately seeking the least bad option.


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