EAST PROVIDENCE — In the words of City Finance Director Malcolm Moore, “it was a very good year” financially for the East Providence School System.
Addressing the School Committee at its meeting Tuesday evening, June 10, at City Hall, Mr. Moore presented an audit of the system for the Fiscal Year 2012-13 ending on Oct. 31, 2013. In doing so, Mr. Moore announced a surplus in excess of $2.4 million.
“For the second year in a row the schools had very good results,” Mr. Moore said. “We’ve run a surplus the last two years…It’s a far cry from the deficit of $7.5 million of a couple of years ago.”
That significant deficit was one of the leading factors in the state take-over of the city in late 2011. Cuts and consolidations made by the Budget Commission in combination with the subsequent thrift-wise policies of Superintendent Kim Mercer during her first year in charge of the system helped the city emerge into the black.
“Credit goes to Superintendent Mercer for keeping spending to a minimum,” Mr. Moore added.
Of note, the Finance Director said some $600,000 out of the surplus was immediately set aside for the system’s “OPEB” or Other Post-Employment Benefits obligation.
“It’s puts us in a good position going forward,” Mr. Moore added of the OPEB expenditure. “We’re fully funding what we should.”
The School Committee agreed with the Superintendent’s suggestion to forward a significant amount of the remaining surplus, some $1.3 million, into the current FY13-14 budget.
Mrs. Mercer announced several other expenditures to be paid for with part of the monies.
Saying she felt teachers and administrators had dipped into their own pockets to make up for deficiencies in materials and textbooks, the Superintendent requested each receive a $200 stipend as a form of repayment for the purchase of supplies.
Mrs. Mercer asked for $113,000 to be used for textbooks supporting the new EUREKA math program.
Funds in the amount of $25,000 are earmarked for a new playground for early learning program at Waddington Elementary School.
A small amount will be used to purchase two new portable laptop carts for Martin Middle School.
Roughly $30,000 is intended for the purchase of new textbooks due to anticipated changes to the Social Studies curriculum at both Martin and Riverside Middle Schools.
In forwarding the remaining surplus to the FY13-14 budget, Mrs. Mercer also noted some $110,000 would be used for salary adjustments, $142,000 for textbooks purchases, $60,000 for technology improvements, $25,000 for equipment upgrades and $600,000 for benefits.