The Block Island Times

$4.8 million school budget proposed for 2014-15

3.9 percent increase
By Stephanie Turaj | Feb 07, 2014

The New Shoreham School Committee has begun the process of developing its 2014-15 fiscal year budget, which will begin July 1.

The preliminary budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year totals $4,856,417. This amount is a 3.9 percent increase ($182,262) over last year’s budget.

For the proposed budget, $4,708,534 of the funding would come from the town. This would be a 4.9 percent increase ($219,242) over the current year’s budget. However, the School Committee hopes to reduce its budget, in order to request a 4 percent increase from the town. This is because Rhode Island law allows the town budget to increase up to 4 percent.

Superintendent Bob Hicks said in a memo to the School Committee, “To bring this budget down to the level requiring a 4% increase in town support will require a reduction of $39,671. There exist possibilities to accomplish this reduction through updated information that arises over the budget process that would not require program adjustments.”

The School Committee discussed the budget in a work session on Thursday, Jan. 30, and it will further discuss the budget at its Feb. 10 meeting. The finalized school budget must be presented to the Town Council by March 3, in order for the council to begin its budget planning process. The town financial meeting will take place in early May.

“Are there any budget items that can be squeezed any more?” asked Bill Padien at the Jan. 30 meeting. “Or are there any line items in our budget that historically come in lower than we budget for?”

Hicks said two areas that could be reduced are unemployment compensation and legal fees. Regarding unemployment compensation, he said, “We don’t envision laying anyone off, but you are sometimes stuck in things you don’t envision.”

In the proposed budget, other sources of revenue from the budget include a $90,084 state grant, $7,000 from the school’s budget reserves, and $54,000 from medicaid reimbursement.

Expenses for the school are broken up by department. There is $2,014,148 budgeted for grades K-7, and the most notable expenses in this category include salaries ($1,306,258), and health insurance ($253,358). There is $1,383,494 budgeted for grades 8-12, most notable expenses are salaries ($904,895) and health insurance ($150,692).

However, Hicks noted in his memo that the “school department is in negotiations with its teachers” and that not all salary figures are finalized. The committee ended its Jan. 30 meeting in closed session to discuss contract negotiations.

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