East Providence school admins present FY19-20 budget to City Council

No moves were made on $50.1 million request

By Mike Rego
Posted 9/4/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — The School Department made its annual budget presentation to the City Council, at the latter’s September 5, Superintendent Kathryn Crowley and District Finance Director Craig …

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East Providence school admins present FY19-20 budget to City Council

No moves were made on $50.1 million request

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The School Department made its annual budget presentation to the City Council, at the latter’s September 5, Superintendent Kathryn Crowley and District Finance Director Craig Enos leading the body through an overview of their $50,124,777 request for Fiscal Year 2019-2020.

Mrs. Crowley cited some 80 percent of the school allocations are tied up to personnel. Asked later by Ward 3 Councilor and former School Committee member Nate Cahoon to specify the amount the district in contractually obligated to reimburse staff for salary and benefits in FY19-20, Mr. Enos pegged the total at $49,689,082.

“I think this is a very, very sound and reasonable budget,” Superintendent Crowley said before turning the floor over to Mr. Enos.

The director said the district is seeking an increase in city side moneys of $2,391,033. Last year, schools received a $2,108,722. So, the actual year-over-year increase would be $282,311. Of the new request, Mr. Enos said $2,029,270 is earmarked for salaries and benefits, $362,033 would go towards other programs.

The director noted other significant expenditures for the district include transportation. Of particular difficulty comes transportation costs related to students who fall under ESSA (federal Every Student Succeeds Act) provisions as well as those associated with Special Needs students.

In contrast, Mr. Enos highlighted the district’s continued investments in curriculum, technology, facilities and security. To that end, he said the next significant infrastructure project, which will run concurrently with building a new high school, is updating the 40-plus year old Martin Middle School.

The director described the multi-million dollar investment to be “build as we go…a five-year process.”

“At Martin need to turn it into a 21st Century learning environment for our students,” Mr. Enos added.

Returning to the podium, Superintendent Crowley reiterated her administration’s FY19-20 submission was a “very fiscally responsible budget.” She also said the district continues to reinvest monies it receives in the form of state reimbursement back into building maintenance needs.

Mr. Cahoon lauded what would be the first time in recent memory the total city appropriation for schools actually covered salaries, but also pointed out East Providence only supports education to the tune of 32.6 percent of its total revenue. That figure remains well below the 65 percent of neighboring Barrington, he said, and also far below the near 50 percent of Warwick and Cranston.

Mr. Cahoon urged his cohorts to “compare” schools with every other department in the city during the budgetary process, adding, “If we’re underfunding schools we’re likely overfunding something else.”

At-Large Councilor Bob Rodericks, himself a former long-time school district employee, praised the district’s efforts in maintaining schools.

“I appreciate schools are getting some serious attention. I lived in a time when that wasn’t the case,” Mr. Rodericks said, continuing, “While I pledge to keep a pretty sharp pencil, I appreciate schools are getting some serious attention.”

No move was made by the council on the school allocation. It will be considered when the administration of Mayor Bob DaSilva formally submits the FY19-20 budget the entire city, which is scheduled for the September 17 council meeting.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.