Committee approves revised Fiscal Year 19-20 East Providence school budget plan

Proposal reduces request of increased city funding by nearly $1 million

By Mike Rego
Posted 8/8/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — The School Committee held the third in a series of budget workshops Tuesday night, Aug. 6, where it listened to and later approved the revised 2019-20 Fiscal Year plan prepared by …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Committee approves revised Fiscal Year 19-20 East Providence school budget plan

Proposal reduces request of increased city funding by nearly $1 million

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The School Committee held the third in a series of budget workshops Tuesday night, Aug. 6, where it listened to and later approved the revised 2019-20 Fiscal Year plan prepared by District Finance Director Craig Enos and the administration of Superintendent Kathryn Crowley.

The amended budget will now be forwarded to the office of Mayor Bob DaSilva and the City Council for their consideration. School administrators are scheduled to make their annual fiscal presentation to the council at that body’s first meeting in September.

The workshop last week, specifically, considered potential reductions in the district’s request, which initially was seeking an uptick of some $3.2 million more in contributions year-over-year from the city, but was cut to approximately $2.375 million by end of the gathering. Mr. Enos said in actual dollars, monies earmarked other than for contractual commitments, the asked for increase from the city totaled just over $266,000.

Previously, Mr. Enos led the body through a special session in late July on the proposed FY19-20 budget, a working figure at the presumed sum of about $89 million, up from the nearly $85 million of the current fiscal year. The proposed added monies for FY19-20 would have been derived mostly from a request for city funds of approximately $51 million, now some $50 million, and state aid in the neighborhood of $36 million, about $600,000 more year-to-year though still a relatively flat figure from years before.

By the conclusion of the July workshop, however, committee members, specifically Ward 2 representative Tony Ferreira, requested Mr. Enos and the rest of the administrators prepare of list of potential reductions, acknowledging the difficulty the district likely faced in getting such a substantial increase in city assistance.

Last week, Superintendent Crowley, who recently returned from a health-related absence, introduced Mr. Enos’ presentation by the telling the committee the administration had attempted to respond to its request by offering up “potential areas for cuts.”

She added, “It’s entirely, entirely up to you make those decisions. This is your budget. These are just recommendations. You can choose to accept them, to change them, make new ones. So, it’s entirely up to you.”

Mr. Enos’ revised draft proposed cuts of $958,500. The committee later added back $66,000, most of which was set aside for building maintenance and student learning materials.

Of the trims overall, Mr. Enos said, “We really tried to spread it out.”

The administration curtailed outlays from several sections of the budget, including from annually its biggest line item, employee compensation. Though most are contractual obligations, Mr. Enos outlined proposed reductions where possible of nearly $400,000. Of the now proposed increase of $2.375 million, about $1.8 million would be directed towards salaries and benefits of retirees.

Asked by Committee Chairman Charlie Tsonos if the district anticipated having any surplus funds come the end of the current fiscal year in October, Mr. Enos answered, “No,” adding the margins of meeting the school department’s financial obligations were “very close…I monitor it daily.”

In supporting the budget proposal and apparently attempting to pre-empt future discussions on the topic by counterparts, At-Large Committee member Joel Monteiro said it was incumbent upon the council and Mayor DaSilva to consider cuts from other city departments first before seeking any more reductions from the schools.

“I have yet to see responsible trimming from the city side,” Mr. Monteiro said. “There are still some pretty obvious gross waste in city salaries.”

He added, “We don’t want to talk about trimming anything on the city side. We want to tell taxpayers your schools are costing more money.”

On another news item of interest, Mr. Enos informed the committee the administration plans to start negotiations with all four of the bargaining units in the district at the start of the new year in January. The current three-year contracts of unionized school employees each conclude at the end of the 2019-20 Fiscal Year, October 31, 2020.

Of note as well, state-appointed Fiscal Advisor Paul Luba, asked to offer his thoughts on the budget by Mr. Tsonos, also made public his impending departure from the city. He said his official duties have ended and he will likely be leaving his position imminently.

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.