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Town, School Department to Collaborate on Eliminating $1.2-Million Shortfall

A judge has issued a consent order for the school department, barring it from making any expenditures "out of the ordinary course of business."

The North Kingstown School Department is prohibited from making any expenditures out of the ordinary course of business without the authorization of the town until its project budget shortfall is resolved, following a ruling from a Judge Brian Stern at Washington County Superior Court.

Attorneys for the school department and the town spoke in chambers with the j – including School Superintendent Phil Auger, School Finance Director Ned Draper and the members of the North Kingstown School Committee. Though the suit sought a temporary restraining order, the judge ruled on a consent order that would bar the school department from making purchases that were outside of ordinary business (i.e. paying utility bills, buying day-to-day supplies, etc.) without seeking the approval of Town Finance Director Patricia Sunderland and providing backup information.

According to Town Solicitor James Reilly, the judge opted to not rule on whether the town had the and instead "encouraged" both sides to work together for a resolution.

"Both sides, I believe, are hopeful that this will all be worked out," said Reilly.

Reilly also indicated that an independent auditor may be brought in to look at the school department's basic education program (BEP). According to Town Council President Elizabeth Dolan, the Town Council is willing to foot the bill for a "quick" audit to analyze the school department's finances. Dolan estimates that the cost of the audit would be in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $40,000.

The school department, along with attorney Mary Ann Carroll, is crafting a corrective action plan to submit to the auditor general by Tuesday. If the estimated $1.2-million deficit is not resolved, a preliminary injunction will be scheduled in later January, said Reilly.

Govstench December 19, 2011 at 01:37 PM
I can say that winds of change are in the air. The Halley crew's days of influence are waning including the RINO's sitting on that town council. The NKTO failed because it lacked a leader. McGwin was no Camarra - she had much class and was respected by many. I do take exception to the comment on the town manager. If he was doing his job, why is the town's OPEB Pension obligation of over $34.5 Million dollars at a funding ratio of zero? That is not managing! He uses a very weak law to attempt to stop the school committee from doing their job, by another state statute! They have a $6.4 Million bond they are trying to float to fix a school roof (which I believe has zero change of being approved by the voters). That mismanagement of the school budget is not unique to NK, it is going on all over the state. What is not happening are for people to sit down and work out their differences instead of poltical posturing. That has to end! And don't think one minute that NK (AA-) bond rating will last - that too will be coming down because of the pension mess. The bond rating agencies are onto this state and they now see a swamp drained and it is ugly. The mess has to be cleaned up and that requires people to step up and throw out those responsible. RI will be into years of hard economy before it gets better.
Richard December 19, 2011 at 02:09 PM
The political party commentary that is put forth on this page is so inaccurate that it is laughable. NKGOP you have no clue what you speak about. For a longtime I have told you to open your eyes & ears. If you had you would know that the NKGOP is in totally different and NEW hands. This has been undertaken with military precision and executed in kind. True noninsiders (as you call them) have emerged and taken control. WE are strong community minded people. NK will be put first and that includes the grossly dysfunctional SC (they'll get it or else). The Dems have completely destructed from inside, because of what was done to Benson. (your fair haired boy was the prime reason). This election will be the waterloo. The people of NK will decide what they want their town to become. NK can remain in a chaotic mess with constant in fighting or the necessary steps will be taken to get the house in order. Either way its not going to be pretty. The time has passed for all the partisanship! Get with it or get out is the mantra! It's so easy to hide here spitting and spewing venom. I say to all who profess an interest in our town becoming a better place to live---get involved openly with the process. Good civic minded people are needed at all levels. NK is collectively everyone who resides here. We are all responsible for what NK is or will become!
seed and soil December 19, 2011 at 08:14 PM
A much larger issue is that the vast majority of NK residents do not read the papers, do not read the Patch...and are not in any way, shape or form tuned in to what is going on at town hall, with the TC or the SC. Name recoginition plays a huge role in who gets elected in our small town. If any of you have ever attended the candidate forums, you know how very few attend. Voter apathy, lack of community engagement is the root issue. I would be very interested to hear a few good ideas pitched out by those of you who are so clearly interested and vested. Any thoughts about how to correct this core problem? Without the correction, I am afraid we will see the same names/faces serving.
NKGOP Watch December 20, 2011 at 12:28 AM
Richard is thats true (I didnt think the change got that far) the Hallelujah, and I really mean that. let the NEW ones be far, far higher quality than those halley-lover drunks loike dolan and hueston etc. I am very supportive of good leadership. Even if it makes decisions I dont agree with, as long as they are arrived at openly and in the interest of the residents North Kingstown.
Govstench December 20, 2011 at 02:31 AM
There are a few groups out there that sponsor candidate forums in addition to the League of Women Voters. South County Patriots sponsored a large gathering at the old Carriage Inn on Tower Hill Road and had many candidates present. The Tea Party groups also sponsored some on the last cycle. As a candidate for public office myself, I made myself available to all the candidate's events and saw the turnouts. I would rate them as fair. North Kingstown has a total voter list of approximately 21,000 and the turnouts have been disappointing. Perhaps the tax bills have not risen high enough yet to get them angry. 2012 will be a good year to run for office as I believe the incumbants are in for a rough ride. Unless they come out and vote, these voters have NOTHING to complain about! Either get involved or shut up - that simple.

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