On Monday, Dec. 10, the Town Council and School Committee met in joint session to discuss the School Committee’s request for a supplemental appropriation of $696,000 to the school’s current year budget.

I appreciate the School Committee’s concern related to the town’s financial support of educational programs. As a Town Councilor, I voted against the 2018 and 2019 budgets, in large part due to the lack of adequate funding for education. I voted against the town’s unilateral consolidation of the municipal and school finance director position, and against the town’s re-organization of the school department’s organizational reporting structure.  

Since assuming office on Nov. 26, this Council has learned that the past administration was significantly behind in compiling financial reports. The Town Council does not have the 3-year revenue projections and requests for capital improvement projects that were due to us on Nov. 1. The School Committee did not receive its 3-year expenditure projections also due Nov. 1. Our independent financial auditor was back on site last week after a one-month pause in their work to complete our annual audit for FY 2018, caused by the resignation of the consolidated finance director. At the present time neither the schools nor the town have a finance director. Our FY 2018 audit will not be completed by the Dec. 31 deadline and the town will need an extension from the state auditor general.

We are moving as quickly as possible. Monday night marked the two-week anniversary of this council. Within that brief period we have met five times. The Council is seeking a financial consultant to help complete the 2018 annual audit, analyze our position in the current FY 2019 budget, and begin constructing the budget for FY 2020. In addition, this consultant will be available to the School Committee and school administration to provide financial services to them as well. The application period for the consultant position closes Friday, Dec. 14, and the Council will be meeting to review applications the same day at 4 p.m.

We are all trying to make sure that we have the best information possible to make important financial decisions for our schools and for our town. The Council voted to meet with the School Committee again in 30 days to continue our conversation, when we both have more complete financial information to share.  

Mark Schwager
President, East Greenwich Town Council