By Elizabeth F. McNamara
The School Committee will not sue the town over funding, retiring a threat (known as a “Caruolo action”) that has loomed over East Greenwich since September. The committee met to consider such an action Thursday night, in response to the Town Council’s decision Monday to hold its extra funding to the schools at $263,000 – $433,000 less than the School Committee had requested to meet immediate needs. It voted 6-0 against a lawsuit; Councilman Matt Plain arrived too late to cast a vote.
In an email Thursday, School Committee Chair Carolyn Mark wrote:
“In a 6-0 vote, the East Greenwich School Committee has voted NOT to pursue a Caruolo action against the Town of East Greenwich for FY2019. We recognize that the East Greenwich Town Council faces significant fiscal challenges that are not of its own making, and appreciate the fact that, nevertheless, the Council chose to at least partially fund our supplemental appropriation request. While the East Greenwich Public Schools continue to have significant unmet needs, we are prepared to work in partnership with the Town Council to begin to right the ship in the coming fiscal year.”
The School Committee undertook a programmatic audit last summer – the first step in a Caruolo action – after the previous Town Council gave the schools less than half the budget increase the committee had requested for the second year in a row. The audit – meant to assess the district’s compliance to the state-mandated Basic Education Plan (BEP) – showed the district had deficits that totalled $1.2 million.

The School Committee submitted a $700,000 supplementary request to the Town Council before the election and got no response. It resent the letter to the new Town Council – made up of four new members and all Democrats, instead of the previous 4-1 Republican majority – in December.

The Town Council voted Jan. 14 to give the schools an additional $263,000 with a promise to revisit the issue once it had received an update on the current year budget. The council got that update Monday. According to town finance consultant Mike D’Amico, the town is projected to have as much as a $1.4 million deficit. In light of that, the council voted against giving the schools anything mor, but they all said they recognized that the schools had been underfunded.


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