Bristol Warren schools seek $55.98 million

Budget request leaves a $2.3 million deficit and includes approximately 23 layoffs, but no sports teams will be eliminated

By Ted Hayes
Posted 2/25/21

Bristol Warren Regional School Committee members will ask the Joint Finance Committee for a 3 percent increase in local education spending this coming school year, after a 5-4 vote on the budget …

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Bristol Warren schools seek $55.98 million

Budget request leaves a $2.3 million deficit and includes approximately 23 layoffs, but no sports teams will be eliminated

Posted

Bristol Warren Regional School Committee members will ask the Joint Finance Committee for a 3 percent increase in local education spending this coming school year, after a 5-4 vote on the budget Thursday evening.

The committee's request — $55,985,792 — is $2.3 million short of the district's projected needs for the coming year, and even if approved by the JFC will necessitate a host of layoffs, programmatic changes and the moving of the district's main office from the Oliver School in Bristol to Mt. Hope High School and Kickemuit Middle School. However, earlier fears that sports would be eliminated will not be realized, as a tabulated list of cuts and their impacts does not include the elimination of any sports teams.

The 3 percent local increase request came after an earlier vote to send a 4 percent local increase to the JFC failed 4-5.

Voting for the 3 percent figure were school committee members Nicky Piper, Carly Reich, Victor Cabral, Sarah Bullard and Marge McBride. Voting against were members Tara Thibaudeau, Sheila Ellsworth, Karen Cabral and Erin Schofield. Ms. Schofield had earlier voted for the 4 percent increase, and said after the meeting that she supported 4 percent, not 3, and thus voted against the lower number. Both Ms. Thibaudeau and Ms. Ellsworth said during the meeting that they would not support any budget request put to vote Thursday evening.

This was the second school committee budget meeting in four days. On Monday, committee members asked Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Brice to come up with a presentation showing exactly where potential cuts would come. To start off Thursday's meeting, he went through the list. Even if the budget passes JFC review as planned, cuts will include:

  • The elimination of 3.4 full time district-wide employee positions and contracted services, for a savings of $374,772. Employee cuts include a digital learning staff member, network manager, assistant facilities manager, special education coordinator, contracted child outreach screener, SEL consultant, and a Kickemuit Middle School dean.
  • The elimination of the Oliver School as the district headquarters. Dr. Brice said this would save $100,000 per year in operating costs and will also lead to lower future capital budget costs.
  • The elimination of four full-time elementary school teachers plus a part-time reading specialist. This will necessitate an increase in class sizes from a current range of 15 to 24 students, to a range of 19 to 24 students, and reduced reading services. The cuts will save $289,004.
  • The elimination of four middle school teachers for a savings of $239,004. This will necessitate a reorganization of Kickemuit Middle School's team model, with 24 students per section.
  • The elimination of 2.25 full-time positions at the high school, for a savings of $139,439. This will result in fewer in-house electives, which would be supplemented with increased access to Edgenuity, the district's online program provider.
  • The elimination of three full-time clerks for a savings of $187,749.
  • The elimination of two custodians for a savings of $138,459.
  • The elimination of four teachers' assistants, for a savings of $224,244.
  • An $89,012 reduction in athletic supplies and equipment. No teams will be eliminated.
  • Software subscriptions, supplies and materials, and extracurricular activity funds would be cut by $151,191.
  • A $19,676 reduction in supplies and materials, which Dr. Brice said could be realized with relatively little impact by switching to a district-wide model for purchasing materials. Buying on the district level, instead of each school doing its own ordering, will save the district money due to economies of scale, he said.
  • Finally, other contractual services, including health care, would be reduced by $352,450. However, this is just a potential savings as it remains to be seen whether contracts could be reworked to reduce the district's costs.

The Joint Finance Committee will have its first budget review meeting on Thursday, March 11.

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