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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, $557,000 for step increases, $510,000 for building aides and bus monitors, and $300,000 for two days of professional development.

There is also an increase of $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 has been cut, Ferrucci said.

Budget reductions include cutting 6.5 math interventionists and 10 teacher’s assistants for a total

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savings of $1,039,000.

The budget will be formally adopted by the School Sommittee on Tuesday. Committee members expressed their concerns about the proposed cuts.

“Cutting math interventionists does harm, cutting teacher’s assistants does harm,” said Committee member David Testa. “The school committee has to decide: what are we going to stand up for?”

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

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

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

Last July, the School Committee filed a complaint against the city in Providence Superior Court, claiming it couldn’t comply with state or federal laws with the current budget

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allocated for this academic year.

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

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

The committee also approved a bid for Commercial Electric, Inc. to replace the fire alarm systems at 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.