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Barrington schools expect to save $300,000 on busing

Good budget news tempered by likely increase for next contract

By Josh Bickford
Posted 5/15/20

The switch to distance learning will save Barrington schools about $300,000 in transportation costs, said the district's director of finance and administration, Doug Fiore.

During an interview on …

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Barrington schools expect to save $300,000 on busing

Good budget news tempered by likely increase for next contract

Posted

The switch to distance learning will save Barrington schools about $300,000 in transportation costs, said the district's director of finance and administration, Doug Fiore.

During an interview on Tuesday, May 12, Mr. Fiore said the local school district is expecting to save $290,000 in bus transportation costs this year. The district had paid about $1 million to Ocean State Transit for busing this year, but with the schools switching to distance learning there has been no need for transportation.

Public schools in Rhode Island have been closed since mid-March, as officials worked to limit the spread of the coronavirus. About a month later, the governor announced that students would continue distance learning through the end of the school year.

Mr. Fiore said the elimination of busing through the end of the year has resulted in the significant savings.

In addition, the local district is experiencing a reduction in utility costs for the six public school buildings. During an earlier interview, Mr. Fiore said that Barrington schools spent $67,460 for gas and electric in March 2020, a drop off from the $78,722 the district spent for those utilities in March 2019.

Beyond the utilities and transportation contract, Barrington school officials do not anticipate much more in the way of "big ticket" savings. The district is still paying the salaries and benefits for all its employees; Barrington Superintendent of Schools Michael Messore said teachers, administrators, teacher's assistants, custodians and other support staff are still working full time.

School officials said that while the district is saving money in the current bus contract, it will likely pay more for transportation in the future. Mr. Fiore said school officials from across the East Bay were working on a collaborative busing contract, and were still anticipating an increase from the current costs. That increase has now been compounded as bus companies aim to recoup lost money, he said.

"It's not a good time" to be negotiating a new bus contract, he said.

The Barrington school department's current budget is about $52.4 million — it had been about $52.7 million, but voters at last year's financial town meeting cut $246,000 out of the operating budget.

Mr. Fiore said the local school department is trending pretty close to being on-budget by the end of the fiscal year on July 1.

Clean schools

Mr. Messore said the custodial staff has been busy for the last two months thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the school buildings.

"The buildings will be the cleanest they've ever been," Mr. Messore said.

In addition, school department employees have been completing some building maintenance projects. Mr. Messore said the interior of the high school needed "a facelift."

"There has been a tremendous amount of interior painting at the high school," Mr. Messore said.

School officials are also completing the construction of a new kitchen at the high school. The kitchen will be used by special education students at BHS.

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