Will North Kingstown Lose Sports, Music Program Next Year?

Schools superintendent will present proposed budget cuts for next year at tonight's school committee meeting.

The North Kingstown School Committee got a glimpse of what the school system might look like next year after . However, those proposed cuts only showed half the picture of the “best case scenario” — i.e. if the North Kingstown Town Council increases the school department’s budget to the maximum amount of four percent. (Click here for the full list of proposed cuts.)

In addition to staff reductions (including the elimination of high school librarians and clerks, reorganization of the athletic director’s position, reduction of two sixth-grade teachers) and supply cuts, Auger recommends the removal of one bus from regular routes (netting $60,000 in savings) and nearly $436,000 in cuts to custodial and cafeteria services, part of the school department’s support staff — the North Kingstown Educational Support Professionals (ESP). According to Auger, these cuts could involve either the outsourcing of custodial and cafeteria services or a series of alternative cuts, pending contract negotiations. Nearly 50 ESP members attended the last School Committee meeting to oppose the proposed outsourcing and cuts to their department.

More programs and positions may be headed to the budget guillotine depending on how much money is raised through taxes. The . If the school department’s revenue receives a 4 percent increase (about $3 million), it will only need to cut $1.6 million. However, with the council level-funding the school department for the past few years, Auger warns that the $1.6 million shortfall could be as much as $3.2 million if the same happens this year.

Auger also offered additional cuts for two other scenarios — one if the school department is level funded and another if it receives half of the maximum amount of tax dollars the town can raise. The former of the two scenarios shows a school department with no sports programs, no after-school programs, deeper cuts to ESP and more.

“I can’t imagine the school district without sports, without music and without the staff I have,” said Auger.

If the school department receives no tax support, Auger said the district may be forced to forego accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and College (NEASC), slated for later this year. Auger said that without athletics, music and extracurricular programs the district might lose during the upcoming budget season, accreditation may be unlikely.

“During a visit year, you’re paying for a whole team to come here and stay for the week,” said Auger, who estimated the visit and subsequent accreditation report would cost the district $30,000.

Auger said he hopes the School Committee will approve his first round of cuts, reflecting a 4 percent increase in tax dollar revenue, to pass on to the Town Council. The other two scenarios, he says, will also go on to the council for informational purposes.

Tonight’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. at

NKGOP Watch February 08, 2012 at 12:30 AM
If the teachers didnt want the sweet and expensive deal of $80k, Cadillac health Plan, Ten Weeks a year off, countless accumulating sick days and other perks, no performance based job evaluations, and a 1.5 million pension benefit for when they retire, we wouldnt be so broke! If the union teachers would have to get by on lets say, 65k, and a 401k plan, and a health benefit that regular employers would give, we would be ALL SET. No joke. There is a price to pay for the outlandish union contracts all these years, and that is we are now broke and unable to have a complete school system, yet the price is higher than ever! THINK about it.
NKMom February 08, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Full disclosure, I am the daughter of a public school teacher in a different state. I generally support unions and believe that they are necessary to support many professions, including teachers. I also believe that with some exceptions, teachers are among the hardest working professionals one can find. They work days, nights, weekends and summers to make education better for our children. I know this to be true - I grew up surrounded by teachers and saw first hand how much work and love they put into teaching...at least the good ones. We entrust them with our kids for 6+ hours a day and ask them to teach our kids the skills they need to succeed (with hopefully our support and at home instruction as well). They deserve to be paid well and they are not. Throwing around what seem to be large numbers is eye catching, but not real. Most teachers do not make 80K. To make up for how well we don't pay teachers, they have negotiated for better benefits. This they deserve.
NKMom February 08, 2012 at 02:39 AM
What should not happen and what our kids do not deserve is the lack of performance based evaluations and the seeming ironclad tenure system. Good teachers should be rewarded. Poor teachers should be put on improvement plans. If they improve, great...all the better for everyone. If they don't they should not be teaching. This is not an NK problem but a state wide one. It needs to change to improve our schools. No sports? No arts or music? Instead of blaming the teachers - who for the most part are working hard to keep our schools good, let's work together to find a solution that does not involve decismating our schools and the reputation NK has worked so hard to build.
Govstench February 08, 2012 at 02:46 AM
The squeeze is on and for those who want those high pay checks, they will find more of their brothers and sister teachers not coming back. Those classrooms will start getting bigger, there will be fewer buses running and so forth. The recession has finally caught up with the government and the take backs will be starting. Retirees may start to feel it as well. Dental plans will disappear, then the co-pays on the medical plans will increase. RI will be last out of the recession as all as local government continues to run red ink. Those with no bond loans are in fine shape; but those with over 100 million in bonded debt will have problems with their budgets. As the bond ratings continue to slump, those interest payments will get expensive. The five towns in trouble will soon mushroom to ten......don't believe all you hear on the media, watch the bond ratings of towns - AND - if Providence is lowered into junk ratings, then all bets are off - the state bonds will start to slip. The trick in this economy is to retire debt, not create it. People are not purchasing big ticket items, instead of paying off or buying down their debt. Records are actually breaking with the downward slide of these cards. Banks are starting to feel the pinch. The long period of credit card game is over.
NKGOP Watch February 08, 2012 at 04:23 AM
"The trick in this economy is to retire debt, not create it." DAMN STRAIGHT! And that's exactly what I did when the recession hit! My govt cant do the same?
Mike February 08, 2012 at 01:37 PM
"The town can only raise taxes by 4% this year". Wow. On top of the extra fees and taxes the State is imposing, as well as the rising cost of medical insurance, food, gas an so forth, I find the "only by 4%" mentality unsettling. Why do taxes have to go up every year? What are you, the NK resident, getting for your increased tax rate? Why do we pay more and get less?
NKRI Transparency February 08, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Our SC has and continues to pass on opportunities for real savings. They are now resorting to familiar scare tactics looking to maximize the effect on students. Like it has been said countless times before "it's for the kids".....the truth is rising to the surface as to who it is really for.
chucklesinri February 08, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Any idea what the $avings windfall will be from this mild winter? Not that I like global warming, but we must've saved some substantial money this winter in plowing, salt, sand, and vehicle maintenance...
mark henricks February 10, 2012 at 04:42 AM
If school programs are cut. Just look to the union for the cause. A giant sucking sound can be heard as the funds go into the pockets of the special interests in this town. The Rhode Island 1% are the Unions. The Unions are a special elite who do not answer to the people but nevertheless take taxpayor money.
NKRI Transparency February 10, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Mark, you are sooooooo right about unions as I learned a long time ago that they don't care about the fleecing of residents. Union state rep just proposed that lawyers be limited in how much they can collect while representing any town. My initial thoughts were positive until I realized the typical union games of tilting the contract pendulum in their favor!!!!
Govstench February 10, 2012 at 03:30 PM
NKRI T: The term to use in the "tilting the contract pendulum" is Coercive Bargaining Practices - The unions against their paid agents across the table. Then you have the union's agent as the third party in the binding contract settlements. Again, the taxpayer is not represented!
NKRI Transparency February 10, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Point well taken and received!
Mike February 10, 2012 at 05:46 PM
You see the tactics even in the comments by union advocates on this site--who have gone quiet recently. The old "why do we pay the town's labor lawyer $1.2M--a waste of money. They should just sit down with he union without a lawyer" comments designed to get uninformed voters to put pressure on the TC. What these disengenuous individuals don't add is 1) that $ number represents 13 years of pay and 2) how much more than that the town's labor lawyer has saved us over the years. Misrepresentation, lying by ommision, and intimidation to keep the union extortion game going. Such small individuals. Much the same with the false choice the SC presents. The only way to balance the budget, we are told, is to ask for more town money and cut student services--and let a few teachers retire. How about reopening contract negotiations and letting the teachers absorb a little more of that 17% medical cost increase? By the way, what's driving that increase?
NKRI Transparency February 10, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Mike, in addition to your comments - there is an article in the ProJo about a submitted state bill that would limit payments to town and city attorney's negotiating labor contracts. Initially I thought this was good until I read that the bill was submitted by Rep Guthrie who is a retired fire fighter (you may recall him during pension reform hearings). Ultimately this is a feel-look good bill allowing for union additional smoke and mirrors such that in the end, the union’s will drag all negotiation’s out with a goal of prevailing in contract negotiations. These unions are unbelievable refusing to stop finding ways to take advantage of taxpayer's.
Mike February 10, 2012 at 07:58 PM
True--though you really can't blame them. They have had their way for so long that it is a habit. Municipalities are using labor lawyers to finally push back as the $ get tight. Therefore the unions try to limit the hiring of these lawyers with misinformation on blogs, intimidation at TC and/or SC meetings, and legally through their political accomplices at the state house--as you mention above. This isn't an accident. It's a campaign.
NKRI Transparency February 10, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Another excellent point as they could not have got to this point without assistance from many state house friends. Fortunately accountability is steering reluctant politicians down the path of resident demands. Taxpayers need to engage allowing or should I say make the minority realize that they are accountable to the majority. I also find it interesting how these same are quick to post until logic forces a retreat.
NKRI Transparency February 11, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Any doubt - see approx 1/2 way down the article: http://www.golocalprov.com/politics/trav1/
Jane Perry February 26, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Is anyone out there at all concerned about cutting school librarians?
NKRI Transparency February 27, 2012 at 12:54 AM
I'm concerned about most cuts.....I'm more concerned about spending dollars we don't have, and even more concerned about our taxes and those that can not afford increases.
Govstench February 27, 2012 at 03:00 AM
I guess the best way to express what is coming could be labeled as "Priority Government." Public safety would be retained to maintain order and public education would be reduced down to core issues. You will eventually see the pols come around to relax or repeal the mandates from the state house as there will no longer be any money to enforce them. What the picture will look like will depend on the bottom line! Voters will need to eventually give up local control over their municipality and settle for county style government. It will eventually come anyway as police and fire districts are merged to save money. School districts will go the same way - try 5 school districts instead of 35! Imagine only spending money on 5 superintendents instead of 35!! That's almost a 4 million dollar saving!
Govstench February 27, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Where does that school librarian fit into all of this? What is the importance of the position and what priority do you give it. This is how it is done in the private sector and it will be done here. No question the public unions will fight this through their normal boiler plate tactics of delay, compromise, negotiation and finally, court action, but they will not prevail if the community falls under state control. Take this to the bank, 51% of the municipalities satisfy the requirements to be taken over by the new receivership law. This is not empty words but the cold hard facts. Don’t be surprised if a state trooper drops by your town hall and inform them that it is over. The healthy municipalities are the ones with NO DEBTS! Ask them how they got there - how did they do it. They do exist.
NKRI Transparency February 27, 2012 at 06:47 PM
I wonder when people will get it http://www.pbn.com/US-governors-have-few-answers-as-cities-face-bankruptcy-risk,65672


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