By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN – At Tuesday’s North Kingstown school committee meeting, Superintendent Dr. Philip Auger presented to the committee the first batch of proposed reductions and transfers to move the district towards a balanced fiscal year 2013 budget.
However, the reductions discussed only represented a situation in which the district was given a four percent increase in appropriation from the town.
For a budget with a four percent increase in appropriation, the district would have to make $1,559,116 in cuts. Auger’s list Tuesday totalled $881,038, with the remaining $678,000 scheduled to be presented at future meetings. The committee has until Feb. 27 to submit a budget to the town council, which will hold a preliminary school budget hearing on April 9.
“This list is comprehensive in that it affects the school department in a wide variety of ways,” Auger said. “This is incredibly hard and I’m working on this daily. The second list of reductions is going to make tonight look like a picnic.”
Auger referenced the town ‘s nearly nine-million dollar surplus and said that if there’s ever been a year to look at what to do with that, it’s now. He plans to discuss that very topic in further detail with the town council.
Auger’s list of proposed reductions includes cuts in administration, cuts of teachers at all levels, as well as reductions in paraprofessionals and clerks. He said they would affect the high school, middle schools, elementary schools and the central office. The cuts also affect district-wide professional development and supplies; elementary music staff, and the buildings/grounds and sports administration.
Auger’s first batch of proposed reductions include the removal of two sixth grade teachers, one at each of the middle schools, due to enrollment decreases that are projected to save the district $125,000.
The reduction of two elementary school teachers, meanwhile, would shave $137,730 off the budget while reducing one library clerk and one 0.5 librarian at the high school would save a total of $70,000.
Auger also suggested cutting supplies district-wide by five percent ($26,406), removing one bus from regular education service ($60,000), transfering transitional students from Perspectives to Davisville Elementary School ($100,000), reducing district-wide use of substitutes for professional development ($25,000) and reducing a 0.5 elementary school music teacher ($31,295).
“Of course, getting to $1.6 million is the most positive scenario we can imagine right now,” added Auger. “The Town appropriation may very well be much less, and therefore, we would have to cut much more.”
The school district also has to provide a budget to the town council based on a two percent increase which would result in $2.4 million in cuts and a zero percent increase resulting in $3.2 million in reductions.
As was the case during the last budget session, Tuesday’s meeting began with many residents speaking out about the possibility of the district outsourcing cafeteria and janitorial services and wondering what impact that could have on programs for special needs students.
Auger replied that outsourcing wasn’t on the first list of proposed cuts, but if it did happen, the special needs programs related to cafeteria and janitorial services would be negotiated with whomever would be taking over.
“I applaud public comment,” committee member Larry Ceresi said. “But it’s better served in front of the town council because they’re the ones who decided how much we get.”
NK resident Donald Hourahan, meanwhile, spoke to the committee about the new roof at Davisville Middle School, offering his services to the district at no cost.
“I have over 25 years experience in the roofing industry and feel I would be valuable to the building committee as they work through the bidding process,” he said. “My company has also decided to recuse themselves from the bidding process at my request.”
The committee directed Horhan to get in contact with the facilities committee to discuss a possible partnership.
The next school committee meeting is scheduled for Feb. 7.