School Committee Approves $35.6 Million Budget
The School Committee voted 7-0 to approve a $35.6 million budget Tuesday night, which would require 2.2 percent more – for a total of $32.2 million – from the town. That number now goes before the Town Council as part of the overall budget for the town.
The approved schools budget is $275,749 less than the budget put forth last week by Supt. Victor Mercurio. At that meeting, School Committee Chairman David Green asked Mercurio and Director of Administration Mary Ann Crawford to make cuts to bring down the level of increase.
The largest of the cuts presented Tuesday was a reading teacher position at Cole Middle School, for a savings of $106,690 (including salary and all benefits).
According to Mercurio, that cut could be made because Cole is the only school in the district with two reading specialists.
” I was comfortable making the recommendation because I still believe that we can meet students’ needs with the proposed staffing levels,” he said, noting that NECAP reading scores at Cole and East Greenwich High School are in the 95 percentile, and at the elementary schools, they are at 85 to 86 percent.
There are 33 students at Cole now who have personal literacy plans (PLPs) to help them become reading proficient, making it comparable with Meadowbrook and Eldredge. The other schools have between 19 to 22 students with PLPs.
The other big-ticket cuts proposed by Mercurio and passed by the School Committee were $92,759 in health insurance costs based on new information, and $42,000 for a teacher retiree (that’s the savings after benefits are paid). No teacher has yet put in for retirement, but Mercurio said there’s been at least one teacher retiree every year for the past three years so he felt comfortable subtracting that amount.
He also cut $15,000 from the budget that was added fund an as-yet-undefined arts supervisor position, something the School Committee discussed in the fall.
The budget process now moves to the Town Council. Town Manager Tom Coyle must present his budget to the council by April 1.
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