Bristol Warren to vote on $2.3 million in cuts

Budget/facilities subcommittee votes 2-1 on cuts, sends them to full school committee

By Ted Hayes
Posted 5/7/21

Members of the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee's budget/facilities subcommittee on Thursday night approved a list of budget cuts totaling $2.3 million, sending the proposed cuts to the full …

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Bristol Warren to vote on $2.3 million in cuts

Budget/facilities subcommittee votes 2-1 on cuts, sends them to full school committee

Posted

Members of the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee's budget/facilities subcommittee on Thursday night approved a list of budget cuts totaling $2.3 million, sending the proposed cuts to the full committee for a vote Monday evening.

The cuts, recommended by Supt. Jonathan Brice as a way to eliminate a $2.3 million budget shortfall this coming school year, hit nearly every facet of the district's operations. They include the elimination of dozens of full time employee positions, cuts to athletics and other programs and other savings measures.

The committee's 2-1 decision to approve the list of cuts included a nay by committee chairwoman Sheila Ellsworth. She said she is still not convinced the cuts are the right way to go about trimming the budget. Without more information, she said, she does not know if the cuts are sustainable and won't leave the district in a similar position next year, or the year after.

"I am concerned with a lot of these cuts," she said. "I understand how difficult this is (but) we need to figure out a way to have sustainability in cuts and to make sure that these are all sustainable long term" while not jeopardizing students' academic success.

Some of the most significant cuts are to the district's staffing. In all, approximately 24 full-time positions would be eliminated if approved by the full committee. They include the elimination of nearly eight full time teaching, clerical and custodial jobs at the Colt Andrews School, the elimination of the Mt. Hope High School theatre director and 6.5 teaching, teaching assistant and clerical positions at the Kickemuit Middle School, including the Dean (see sidebar below).

Others include a $25,000 cut to athletics, $352,450 in cuts to contracted services, and more than $87,000 via reductions in supplies and subscriptions. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Diane Sanna said the district will be able to sustain an excellent school district despite the cuts, but said concessions will have to be made. For instance, she said, there will be a 15 percent reduction in general office supply funding across the board.

"Also at the elementary level, over the years we have gone back and forth with asking parents to help out with supplies and having a supply list for students" to bring home, she said, mentioning crayons, pencils and the like. "We feel it's appropriate (to continue that) and parents have been very supportive."

Dr. Sanna said that while "this has been a very difficult time," there could be some light at the end of the tunnel, as the district is set to receive approximately $6 million in grants through a federal program created to address the impact of Covid-19 on the nation's schools.

She said the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund could be used to keep some programs and staffing in place this year, and mentioned the theatre position as one that could potentially be funded by ESSER. Dr. Brice said the next morning that it is still uncertain what programs would be eligible for funding via ESSER, but said the district will likely receive approximately $6 million of those funds and will find out next week what they can be used for.

Though the funds could provide temporary coverage of expenditures that will need to be cut from the district's operating budget, several subcommittee members said they are leery of using them to provide a temporary fix:

"Does that mean when these funds are no longer, these programs will no longer be?" asked member Tara Thibaudeau of Warren. "This is a bandaid. This is a way to keep these programs this year. But what is the sustainability of using these funds in this way?"

"In some ways this is a bandaid," Dr. Sanna agreed. "But it also allows us to continue these programs for students, especially after a very difficult year."

"I don't have a problem using ESSER funds for a one year bridge," school committee chairwoman Marge McBride said.

While the district does not need to cut programs prior to the beginning of August, the district has until June 1 to inform any teachers who may be laid off of any decision to let them go. The full school committee is expected to review the proposed cuts Monday, May 10, but Ms. Thibaudeau said Friday morning that there will be another full committee meeting later this month, and it is possible that the final vote could be drawn out until that date.

"That's a possibility," she said. "I'm not comfortable with this budget (and) I know that Sheila is not comfortable with it. We've overspent so many lines; is this budget really sound? There are still a lot of questions that have to be answered."

Proposed staffing cuts and expected savings

District-wide

Director of education technology ($104,098.95)

Network manager ($107,831.42)

Assistant facilities director ($102,108.95)

Secondary special educator (.6 reduction, $58,774.98)

Benefits clerk ($84,131.33)

Child outreach screener ($15,071)

Courier (.5 reduction, $38,879)

SEL consultant ($30,000)

KMS Dean (63,156.10)

Elementary

Colt Andrews second grade teacher ($59,751)

Colt Andrews fifth grade teacher ($59,751)

Hugh Cole fourth grade teacher ($59,751)

Rockwell Reading Specialist (.5 reduction, $38,580)

Hugh Cole clerk ($63,309.71)

Colt Andrews art teacher (.4 reduction, $44,858.25)

Colt Andrews music teacher (.4 reduction, $44,858.25)

Colt Andrews librarian (.4 reduction, $44,858.25)

Colt Andrews special educator (.5 reduction, $38,580)

PE/Health (.3 reduction, $33,303.70)

Colt Andrews Teacher Assistant ($56,061)

Guiteras Teacher Assistant ($36,579.11)

Colt Andrews custodian (.5 reduction, $38,879)

Middle School

Grade eight ELA teacher ($59,751)

Grade seven math teacher ($59,751)

Grade eight science teacher ($59,751)

Grade eight social studies teacher ($59,751)

Music teacher ($59,751)

Teacher assistant (two, for total of $112,122)

Custodian (.5 reduction, $38,879)

High School

Social studies teacher (.6 reduction, $27,483.94)

Theater teacher ($77,160)

Family consumer science teacher (.6 reduction, $27.483.94)

Clerk ($63,309.71)

Custodian (.5 reduction, $38,879)

Extended day teacher ($45,538.88)

Other areas

Athletics ($25,000)

Other contractual services ($352,450)

Software/subscriptions ($50,000)

Supplies and materials ($87,627)

Extracurricular ($27,894)

Oliver relocation ($50,000)

 

 

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