School Committee Begrudgingly Adopts Amended Budget

by | Jun 20, 2023

No one is let go but positions – music, language, psychologists – will go unfilled 

The East Greenwich School Committee adopted a revised budget that cuts $500,000 from what they asked the Town Council for and approved in April. The vote was unanimous, but only after each of the five of seven members in attendance stated their disapproval of the new budget. Members Eugene Quinn and William Hangan were not in attendance.

The budget that passed Tuesday night was $47,202,998 after the Town Council adopted a budget that shaved half a million dollars off what the School Committee had approved.

No Hires or Fires

When discussing what was cut to make up the difference, Supt. Brian Ricca said, “When you’re talking about half a million dollars in a school district, you’re only going to reach that number with human beings.” He referred to the currently vacant educational positions that would have been filled if the Town Council had approved the proposed school budget.

Those positions included music and language teachers, along with a school psychologist. In addition to the education position no longer on the table, Ricca said other items were removed from the budget, like classroom furniture, general supplies, and reducing what had already been put aside for building improvements.

“While I wish we did not have to do this, this is the best way,” Ricca said.

Despite being disappointed in not being able to hire new staff, Ricca said he was glad that he kept his promise of not having to fire any East Greenwich Public School employees to balance the budget.

School Committee Vice Chair Nicole Bucka pointed out that no money for new teachers means no additional special needs educators will enter the EG school system next educational year.

“Being an educator and being a parent of kids with special needs, I think I see the damage done in a way other people don’t see it,” she said. “And I just can’t do this anymore.”

She went on to say that she struggled to approve this budget adoption.

Another member of the committee who agreed with that sentiment was Tim Munoz, who said, “There’s got to be some budget logic that goes beyond numbers.”

A Difference Moving Forward

While many on the committee praised the transparency and the labor that went into the budget process, some called for changes to be made in the future to reduce feeling “blindsided,” as Ricca said regarding the six-figure reduction.

Bucka mentioned creating a “decision-making flowchart” to clarify what educational aspects are cut when money is restricted. 

One of the ways to illustrate the argument that EG schools haven’t gotten the funding they need in the past few years is to be “as evidence-based as possible,” said Alyson Powell, committee chair. She later discussed possible “special meetings or workshops” for members of the School Committee to familiarize themselves with the historical budget data.

Additionally, Ricca envisions future budget proposals as a “thoughtful process involving our Town Council.”

“I don’t think we’re working with partners who don’t want to understand,” Powell said. However, she added that “any further reductions” in budgets in the following year would put the schools in an “unsustainable position.”

“I know it’s not easy on the town side,” Munoz said. “But I hope they’re listening.”

Posted 6/20/23

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