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Committee Reviews Thornton’s $9.6M FY20 Budget Increase Request

[CREDIT: File Photo] Warwick Veterans Jr. High School at 2401 W Shore Road.
[CREDIT: File Photo] Warwick Veterans Jr. High School at 2401 W Shore Road.
[CREDIT: File Photo] Warwick Veterans Jr. High School at 2401 W Shore Road.

Warwick – The School Committee reviewed Superintendent Philip Thornton’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget Monday, which will add another $9.6 million to a budget with a pre-existing $8.5 million deficit in current Fiscal Year 2019.

The $9.6 million marks a 6.9 percent increase over the current $123.9 million allocated to the schools for fiscal year 2019, according to Anthony Ferrucci, Executive Director of Finance and Operations, at Monday’s School Committee meeting. Overall, the Fiscal Year 2020 budget is projected to increase by 5.86 percent.

The budget increases

include $2.8 million in contractual salary increases for all staff, $557,000for step increases, $510,000 for building aides and bus monitors, and $300,000for two days of professional development.

There is also an increaseof $3.2 million for medical insurance.

Earlier this year,Ferrucci projected a $12 million deficit in the budget due to rising expenses.In order to get to the Superintendent’s recommended budget, $2.4 million hasbeen cut, Ferrucci said.

Budget reductions includecutting 6.5 math interventionists and 10 teacher’s assistants for a totalsavings of $1,039,000.

The budget will be formallyadopted by the School Sommittee on Tuesday. Committee members expressed their

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concerns about the proposed cuts.

“Cutting mathinterventionists does harm, cutting teacher’s assistants does harm,” said Committeemember David Testa. “The school committee has to decide: what are we going tostand up for?”

“We need to fill thebuses,” said committee chairwoman Karen Bachus. “In some parts of the city, thebuses are full. In other parts of the city, they’re not. We either have to cutbuses or fill the ones that we have. They’re too darn expensive and in manyways we’ve traded buildings for buses.”

Bachus said the district“could not afford” to eliminate teachers’ assistants.

The school departmentfaces an uphill climb in getting the funds from the city, however.

Last July, the SchoolCommittee filed a complaint against the city in Providence Superior Court,claiming it couldn’t comply with state or federal laws with the current budgetallocated for this academic year.

According to thecomplaint, that amount was about $8 million more than the budget from theprevious year. Last Year, the Council’s budget was $6.6 million less than what

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was requested, according to the complaint.

In other news, the SchoolCommittee approved a bid for a roof replacement for Sherman Elementary Schoolat a cost of $997,500, awarding the contract to Commercial Roofing.

The committee alsoapproved a bid for Commercial Electric, Inc. to replace the fire alarm systemsat Oakland Beach Elementary School and Scott Elementary School, totaling $309,665.

In the complaint, it says in Fiscal Year 2010, the committee was allocated a budget of $123,968,000. In comparison, for Fiscal Year 2018-19, the Committee requested $130,627,676.

The School Committee meets again Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at Warwick Veterans Middle School to continue discussion of the budget and to hear public comment on the plan. Hearings on the budget will also be held Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at editor@warwickpost.com with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.