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SK withdraws membership from SORICO

December 21, 2010

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – With SORICO becoming a hibernated group and with a potential liability with selling the group's building on Camp Avenue in North Kingstown, the South Kingstown school committee regrettably withdrew its membership from the Southern Rhode Island education and training center at Tuesday night's meeting.

The committee also met with state local legislators to discuss the education funding formula, binding arbitration and other state mandates concerning the town.

For 22 years, the Southern Rhode Island Collaborative has worked to partner its nine member school districts in southern Rhode Island to provide leadership to ensure strong student achievement through the development of high quality programs and services using collaborative strategies. SORICO was created in 1988 by the state legislature. The regional service agency has worked with nine school districts including Block Island, Chariho, East Greenwich, Exeter/West Greenwich, Jamestown, Narragansett, North Kingstown, South Kingstown and Westerly.

Yet due to financial difficulties, the SORICO members have decided to enter into a hibernation state, in which they can continue to collaborate but without a building location.

“The southern Rhode Island collaborative has run into a myriad of financial difficulties including the loss of executive director Michael McKee, who is retiring. Each of the nine member districts voted to hibernate SORICO. One option was to dissolve it, but there was the fear that we wouldn't be able to work together,” Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow said.

Stringfellow said there was no more need for the SORICO building at 646 Camp Avenue, North Kingstown and that committee on which she is apart of was created to work on the sale and bid of the building.

Stringfellow said the Camp Avenue building had been assessed at $914,200. Realtors Stringfellow consulted said if put on sale, SORICO should attain at least $800,000. The mortgage is $356,762 and the mortgage monthly note is between $4,000 and $4,400. The collective liability for not selling before June 30 is $24,450.

Stringfellow said the committee had two options: Do not withdraw from the group before June 30 and be held liable if the building does not sell or be eligible for a share of the asset if it is sold. Also, if the building does not sell, the remaining SORICO members would have to pay the mortgage. But if they withdraw before June 30, there are not liable but would not receive a share of the assets either if the building is sold.

Attorneys Stringfellow consulted said if they withdrew they must make a payment of their fair share of the liability. South Kingstown already owes $10,746,000.

Stringfellow said the committee had to give the state education commissioner, Deborah Gist notice of their attempt to withdraw within the next two weeks, but that they could rescind that offer by June 30.

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