Government leaders across the country and the state, including those here in Bristol and Warren, are watching closely to see what actions, if any, Washington lawmakers will take to avoid sequestration.
By Friday, March 1, if Congress cannot agree on a plan to reduce the country’s budget deficit, automatic cuts to a variety of federally funded programs and services will be made.
If sequestration occurs, Rhode Island could face losing $2.4 million in school funding.
Anticipating a worst case scenario, administrators within the Bristol Warren Regional School District factored that potential loss of federal funding, on top of the actual loss of state funding due to the funding formula, in developing the 2013-2014 budget request.
The potential affect of sequestration on the school budget was raised by Warren resident Linda Rimoshytus at the Feb. 25 school committee meeting. Pauline Silva, the district’s director of administration and finance said that the potential loss in revenue appears in the budget line for ‘other governmental funds’, showing an allocation of $1.9 million.
“That has been lowered by the 5.1 percent that we’ve been told by RIDE (Rhode Island Department of Education) that sequestration will affect our consolidated resource plan. It’s been factored in,” Ms. Silva said.
School committee chairman Paul Silva acknowledged the administration’s fiscal responsibility to maintain a high quality education even through challenging economic times.
“Our administrators try to plan ahead for these contingencies. They’ve been doing a good job keeping us in the black and managing to get us in without having to cost the taxpayers an increase,” Mr. Silva said.
While administrators planned for the loss of federal funds, if sequestration doesn’t happen, Ms. Silva said, “We’re doing good.”
Ms. Rimoshytus, the only resident who attended the budget meeting lauded the school committee and administrators for their dedication to students and the school district.
“People who are parents in this community do not see what goes on here,” she said.
Ms. Rimoshytus suggested that more residents, especially those who have children in the school system, should make an effort to attend school committee meetings rather than get caught up in hearsay or rumors that may misrepresent school district business proceedings.