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School Committee Adopts $35.6 million Budget

Budget reflects recent $275,000 in savings that school officials say won't affect programs or initiatives.

The School Committee adopted a $35.6 million budget for fiscal 2015 in a unanimous vote Tuesday night.

The final version of the budget reflects more than $275,000 in cost savings from a series of cuts and adjustments proposed by Superintendent Victor Mercurio, the bulk of which from the elimination of a reading teacher at Archie R. Cole Middle School, which would save $106,690.

Other cuts include a reduction in the expected cost of healthcare increases (from 5 to 3 percent), $42,000 in savings expected from a teacher retirement and a number of small cuts ranging from $100 to $2,000 in categories such as postage, advertising costs, library books, athletic equipment and groundskeeping.

The School Committee asked the superintendent to squeeze extra savings out of the budget prior to Tuesday night's meeting and Mercurio said the propsed $275,000 savings is the result of "thoughtful and careful" analysis of the budget.

"We're not cutting programs or initiatives," Mercurio said. "What we see here is being brought to you this evening with the confidence we're able to build upon those initiatives and programs."

All told, the budget represents a $931,283 increase, or 2.69 percent, over last year's budget.

Of that, 2.19 percent would come from additional money from the town's annual appropriation to the school district. The remainder of the increase will come through expected increases in state aid.

The biggest cut — eliminating a reading teacher at Cole Middle School — would not have a negative effect on students, said Principal Alexis Meyer. 

A total of 33 students are on literacy plans within the program and that "is not a challenging number for one teacher," Meyer said, noting that not all students are in the same class at the same time and the remaining teacher spends time doing inclusion work in the school when not having direct contact with the students as a group.

Stay tuned for more details about the budget.

Mark Schieldrop March 06, 2014 at 03:00 PM
It's a shame that the budget documents aren't online, which many communities do. Then data would be easily accessible to anyone with interest. Additionally, I came to this town after the school budget process was just finishing up. As I said in this post, I will have more details about the budget once I've had time to go through the materials they had printed out at the last SC meeting. What I can tell you right now is that the district is looking to spend $577,908 on admin salaries out of 20.9 million in salaries for teachers at all the schools plus tech and special ed. Those numbers don't include benefits. You can take the total budget figure of 35.6, subtract salaries and benefits ($7 million) to get a figure of about about $8 million. Of that $8 million, it's harder to explain how it breaks down without a spreadsheet. I can scan and e-mail you whatever was handed out at the meeting last week. Just send me an email mark.schieldrop@patch.com
Mark Schieldrop March 06, 2014 at 03:00 PM
Benefits is about $7 million, to clarify my comment above.
EG March 06, 2014 at 03:24 PM
Thank you Mark. It is hard to believe the admin salaries are that low. We have to pay Supt., directors, six principals, secretaries, etc.... I will consider these cost as administration costs(not teachers cost).
Mark Schieldrop March 06, 2014 at 03:29 PM
No problem. Please, feel free to reach out. It will take me a few weeks to really get up to speed here, but I have been covering and reporting on budgets for years so I understand your concerns. I'll see about providing more raw materials when the town budget process is well underway. We've hired someone to help out here in RI and I will be able to devote time and energy to EG. And I live just a few minutes away in Cranston, so I'll be in town plenty, especially when the weather finally starts to warm up. Thanks again for your comments/concerns.
John March 06, 2014 at 07:50 PM
"It's a shame that the budget documents aren't online, which many communities do.". Isn't it?

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