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Would repeal of Caruolo Act have ramifications for SK?

February 24, 2011

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – A state representative has proposed repealing the controversial Caruolo Act, which allows school committees to file suit against their taxpayers when they overspend their budgets, something South Kingstown isn't too worried about.

Rep. Patricia L. Morgan, R- West Warwick, Coventry introduced the legislation to eliminate the law that she said is a costly and lengthy method of resolving funding disputes.

“Quite simply, the Caruolo Act has been a costly and detrimental policy,” Morgan said in a press release. “What this law has done is increase the cities' and towns' costs of education, reduce their councils' ability to control spending, and drive up property taxes. It has done nothing to promote accountability for the efficient and effective education of our children. I believe that continuing this failed policy is foolish and the time has come to repeal it.”

The Caruolo Act, enacted in 1995 was designed to give a unbiased forum where schools and towns could settle budget disputes. It allows school committees to sue the town or city government for more money in state Superior Court. Having a court decide the budget dispute replaced a process in which the state education commissioner resolved the dispute, which cities and towns at the time saw as biased toward the schools.
However, now the act is criticized for allowing schools to avoid budget cuts and to not work within their means.

“Caruolo lawsuits fly in the face of good public policy. Officials must learn to live within the budgets that the taxpayers give them. This should be true in good years, as well as bad,” Morgan said in a press release.

For more information pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.

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