May 26th, 2011
By DAVID PEPIN
With a little final housekeeping Tuesday night, the East Greenwich School District completed its $32,988.353 overall budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
After agreeing to a $50,000 cut requested by the Town Council in the $30,551,077 school appropriation recommended by Town Manager William Sequino Jr. last week, school officials had some extra work to do after previously cutting $713,713 from the figure they had submitted to Sequino in March. The councilâ€™s completed budget will go before voters at the June 14 financial town meeting.
Mary Ann Crawford, school finance director, said the final $50,000 came from cutting $38,636 in the substitute teacher account and $11,364 in 1.5 percent raises scheduled for non-union professional personnel in the district.
The substitute funds could be cut, she said, because of federal Race to the Top money that would fund teachersâ€™ professional development activities and also provide for substitutes on days those teachers miss class.
The previous cuts to the schoolsâ€™ budget request came were made up by $287,287 in additional revenues, including $60,000 from the districtâ€™s fund balance, and $426,426 in expense reductions, over half of which came from teacher retirements and Blue Cross health coverage. Blue Cross did not raise the districtâ€™s premiums for the upcoming year.
With the FY12 budget, school officials looked with trepidation toward next yearâ€™s budget, which will be drastically effected by the stateâ€™s pension crisis. Crawford estimated that teacher pension contributions, which came to $1.3 million this year, could rise by 75 to 100 percent next year,
â€śThe challenges for next year are like nothing Iâ€™ve ever seen. With the pension increases, weâ€™ll be right at the cap (state-mandated 4.25 limit on tax levy increase), she said.
School Committee Chairwoman Deidre Gifford said this yearâ€™s budget leans on the districtâ€™s fund balance and Race to the Top funding, sources that may not necessarily be available next year.
â€śWeâ€™re in the range of $150,000 weâ€™re not going to have next year. Weâ€™re losing one-time supplements,â€ť she said.
General Treasurer Gina Raimondo met with the stateâ€™s school superintendents last Friday, and will meet with the R.I. Association of School Committees on Saturday in an attempt to let them know what lies ahead.
â€śShe spoke to us in the most general terms,â€ť Superintendent Victor Mercurio said of his peersâ€™ audience with the treasurer, who is taking the lead on the state pension reform effort.
Committee member David Green will represent the town at Saturdayâ€™s meeting.
Also, the committee considered putting the district food service contract back up for bids after receiving the April financial report from Aramark, on the third year of a five-year contract. A decision will be placed on the agenda for the committeeâ€™s June 7 meeting.
Crawford said the service is running a $21,000 deficit through April, making it more likely the town will have to make up some of it at the end of the school year. Under terms of the contract, Aramark would eat the first $8,100 of any deficit as a management fee, with the district liable for the remainder.
â€ś$13,000 is an awful lot to make up in two months,â€ť said Crawford, who attributed the deficit to increased food and fuel costs, despite an increase in overall meals served throughout the district.
Gifford said the district would be willing to consider an increase in meal prices: $2 at elementary schools, $2.50 at Cole Middle School, $2.75 at East Greenwich High School and $3.50 for the daily premium meal selection.
This Monday marks the annual holiday known as Memorial Day and for veterans all around that country, the day is one of somber remembrance and appreciation for time spent defending our country and protecting our way of life.
This week, the Standard Times pays tribute to those members of our Armed Forces in a special look at the lives and times of five local veterans.
Writer Martha Smith takes you on a wonderful journey of true love for country through our special "Salute to those who have served" series.
WEST WARWICK â€” All it took was one inning for the West Warwick Wizards to erase the memories of its late regular season struggles, including a loss in the regular season finale to the Exeter West Greenwich Scarlet Knights, Wednesdayâ€™s opponent.
With the game tied at 2-2, West Warwick exploded for 11 runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to win going away 13-2 in five innings.
First baseman Richard Grenier Jr. got the rally started with a double to right, the first of eight hits in the inning.
By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWN â€“ When a School Committee member unofficially told Lisa Windham that a playground with special equipment would be installed at Fishing Cove Elementary School, she was thrilled.
Her delight was short-lived.
RICHMOND -- The Town Council is marinating on an idea to pull back the newly changed term lengths for elected officials from four years to two years.
KINGSTON,â€“University of Rhode Island senior Meg Frost is determined to learn all she can about Hispanic culture.
She has already traveled to Costa Rica twice, spent a semester in Spain, and worked at a think tank analyzing Central American politics. Now sheâ€™s headed to Colombia as a Fulbright Fellow to teach English to college students, take classes, and engage in a community service project.
NORTH KINGSTOWNâ€”When Lynn Moran sits in the conference room of her office at the Meadows Commercial Office Building located at 1130 Ten Rod Road, she is not far from reminders of the past, present and future.
CHARLESTOWN â€“ The Town Council is seeking resident feedback and assistance in dealing with a land purchase proposal for 81 acres off King's Factory Road.
SOUTH KINGSTOWN â€“ With local small businesses in mind, the Economic Development Committee met with the Town Council Tuesday night to discuss the townâ€™s tax exemption and stabilization program, hoping to make it easier for small businesses to apply for tax credits.
The Town Council originally approved the tax exemption guidance statement on Feb. 28 during a town meeting. The EDC later reviewed the statement at a work session on March 20. Based on that review, the EDC prepared proposed revisions to the statement, including emphasizing small businesses, reducing the taxable investment for program eligibility and making it more flexible and simple.
NORTH KINGSTOWN â€“ Debbie Goodwin followed her father in some major aspects of life: she took up an instrument and, as a teen, joined her dad in the Lafayette Band; she chose the same career path, too, logging 22 years in the U.S. Navy; and like, her dad, she met her spouse in the service, too.
It is a military family with a musical flourish.
Her dad, the late Robert Rice, retired as a Navy Lieutenant Commander; her mom, Nettie, was in the Navy Nurses Corps for eight years during World War II. Debbieâ€™s husband, Tom, retired after a combined 29-and-a-half years in the Navy and Marine Corps.