SOUTH KINGSTOWN – South Kingstown schools will be receiving $216,000 more in state aid than originally anticipated after Governor Lincoln Chafee proposed his FY 2013 budget that aims to increase support to local schools in light of the budget strains facing cities and towns.
According to the governor’s budget, South Kingstown is allocated $8.51 million more, which amounts to a $216,768 increase.
Superintendent Dr. Kristen Stringfellow announced the good news at a budget work session with the school committee two weeks ago, where they approved a $58.8 million budget for next year. The change in education aid is a result of the change in the education aid formula. The state changed the core amount per student and the state share for the districts, which created an increased total for South Kingstown. For South Kingstown, state aid for the cost per student increased from $8,333 to $8,679 and the state share increased from 16.4 percent to 16.8 percent.
With the increase in aid, the school committee elected to lower the request for the property tax transfer from the town from two percent to 1.6 percent, an equivalent reduction of $216,768.
The increase in education aid is something most school districts have experienced after Chafee announced his FY budget plan that allocates $38.2 million more in state aid to schools. Twenty of 36 school districts anticipate more state aid. In his budget, Chafee has proposed to couple the increase in education aid to a two percent hike in the meals and beverage tax from eight to 10 percent.
“This budget proposes a clear way to pay for this substantial and necessary education funding and help for our local communities: it will be supported by a 2-percentage-point increase in the meal and beverage tax,” Chafee said Tuesday night to the General Assembly. “I know this will be controversial, but the money we raise will go to the most important investments we can make.”
“Even in the most difficult of times, I will fight to ensure that our students do not go without the resources they need for a quality education, while I continue to fight for the property taxpayer,” Chafee said during his state of the state address.
In total, Chafee’s proposal adds $21.6 million to state education for school districts, including charter schools and $11 million for communities anticipating aid under the new education aid formula.
The school aid increase comes as Chafee hopes to grow the state economy, get people back to work and make “this the year of the cities and towns.”
It follows a $75 million Race to the Top grant and a $50 million federal allocation for early education funding Rhode Island received this year after Education Commissioner Deborah Gist worked to secure the funding.
Aside from the education aid, the school committee approved within the budget two new administrative positions, including a behavioral specialist for elementary grades and a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) coordinator. The STEM coordinator will work with the math and science departments on curriculum and also evaluate teachers as part of the Department of Education’s new teacher evaluation system.
The school budget, however, is not final. On Tuesday, Feb. 14, the school committee will present their budget to the town council for approval.