SOUTH KINGSTOWN - Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow presented her $58.9 million budget to the school committee on Tuesday night in the High School cafeteria. The budget includes $761,000 worth of necessary reductions that she and her staff recommend making from special education, specialist staff and teacher’s assistants. She also recommended eliminating one elementary section and one high school section.
“Reductions are always very difficult,” said Stringfellow. “No matter what part of the organization is identified for the reduction, we try our very best to protect student programs and instructional core. Being the biggest public school loser in the funding formula -a non-regionalized district - we will expect that we will be losing revenue for the next six years.”
Rather than budgeting for major capital gains or directly enhancing student learning, the staff in South Kingstown is forced by the funding structure to divert financial losses off of the students.
“It’s something we’re not enthusiastic about,” said Stringfellow. “It’s a very difficult reality, but we try our very best to make those decisions to make sure that students are least affected as possible.”
$300,000 of the $761,000 staff reductions come from special education, where the superintendent claims there is less of a need for the staff this year.
“This is an area where we spend above the national average,” said Stringfellow. “We have less special education students. We’ve gone from our high of 25 percent special education students to a low of 14 percent. The good news is that more youngsters are accessing the central education system, which is our goal. Unfortunately, those positions will be reduced.”