School Committee Approves $50.3M Budget for FY2025

by | Apr 16, 2024

Above: Members of the School Committee and Supt. Brian Ricca April 9.

They add extra for mental health, facilities

Local schools need an additional social worker, and an additional $400,000 for upgrades and improvements to facilities and buildings, according to the budget the School Committee unanimously approved, 6-0 with Committeeman Tim Munoz absent, and sent to Town Manager Andy Nota last week. The total budget is $50.3 million, with the schools asking the town for $41.3 million, a 5.4 percent* increase from last year. 

These are “pressing needs that our community is aware of,” said Chair Alyson Powell.   

During their April 9 discussion, School Committee members decided to add the additional social worker to the budget, citing the huge need for mental health support throughout the district. “We are stretching people too thin,” said Ricca. 

Initially, the committee discussed adding $100,000 back to the facilities budget – Ricca had budgeted $443,210 but Facilities Director Bob Wilmarth’s originally ask had been $866,830. 

“I think we should add the full $400,000 back in facilities,” said committee member Will Hangan.

After the meeting, Powell explained facilities budget often gets cut because “it seems the furthest away from students. It’s the only place where – until you do it too long – you can appear to get away with it.” 

She pointed to the roof situation at East Greenwich High School as an illustration.

“It’s a false choice – people or buildings,” she said, since building problems will catch up with you in the long run. 

The approved budget relies on a $762,000 increase in state funding (to $6.7 million up from $5.9 million this year). That number could change as late as June. 

It also uses $800,000 in surplus (what the district calls fund balance). This year’s budget called for $1.1 million from surplus (what amount of that will actually be needed by the time the budget closes is not yet known).

“My hope is that we find a better way to budget because truly we have come to a tipping point,” said Ricca referring to the surplus. He said the district would not be able to continue to rely on surplus for operating expenses beyond next year. 

The School Committee and the administration created a budget process this year that outlined everything that is legally required in one column, unfunded mandates went in another column, the costs for town services that are going back on the schools’ books after many years in another column, with everything else going into an “other” column. 

From there, according to Chair Alyson Powell, they prioritized those “other” items and added back what they could, knowing they couldn’t have everything. 

Among the positions left off Ricca’s original budget were a social worker, a guidance counselor for Cole Middle School, Spanish and math teachers for the high school, and a custodial supervisor. 

At the meeting, School Committee members appeared emboldened to think of what was needed, not how to keep the ask at 4 percent or lower. By state law, the town cannot increase the tax levy more than 4 percent year over year without permission from the General Assembly. That does not mean the schools can’t ask for more than 4 percent.

“I think it’s a great idea to articulate what we need and why we need it,” said member Clare Cecil-Karb. 

“If we don’t ask, it’s not visible. Nobody sees it,” said Quinn. 

“I’m constantly seeing this district being underfunded,” said member Kevin Murphy. “There’s a whole host of positions that are required by law…. I don’t know if there’s any harm … if we ask for what we need. We can back it up with math … with law … with facts … with evidence. Maybe we need to broaden the overall ask … and just be honest about it.”

The School Committee offered this explanation of the budget: EGPS Budget Letter from SC 4.16.24.

The budget is now with Town Manager Andy Nota, who must present an overall town budget by May 1. 

*Editor’s note: This figure is corrected from the original post. We regret the error.

Value the news you get here on East Greenwich News? As a 501-c3, we depend on reader support. Become a sustaining (monthly) donor or make a one-time donation! Click on the Donate button below or send a check to EG News, 18 Prospect St., East Greenwich, RI 02818. Thanks.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Peter Carney
Peter Carney
April 17, 2024 7:26 am

The “Budget Letter” embedded in last paragraph states a 5.4% increase has been requested by the SC compared to the ‘23-‘24 budget. This article states the increase request is 4.5%.


Newsletter Sign Up

* indicates required


Latest Streaming