WARWICK, RI — The Warwick School Committee ended Tuesday’s meeting with an Assistant Superintendent and a revised $170.2 million 2020 budget.
Lynn Dambruch, the former Director of Elementary Education, will now serve as Assistant Superintendent.
The unanimous vote came after the committee rejected Dambruch’s appointment at a Jan. 23 meeting. Dambruch was also appointed temporary Elementary Education Director during that meeting. Those duties are now part of the Assistant Superintendent role, said Warwick Schools Superintendent Philip Thornton.
Also during the meeting, the School Committee approved William McCaffrey as the new director of secondary education by a 4-1 vote. Chairperson Karen Bachus, Vice-Chairperson Judith Cobden, Kyle Adams, and Nathan Cornell voted yes, while David Testa was the lone no vote.
The former director of secondary education, Bob Littlefield, left in January to take a position as head of the RI Association of School Principals.
Darlene Netcoh, the president of the Warwick Teachers’ Union, praised Dambruch and McCaffrey.
“I like the fact that both of these people have already devoted decades of service to this district and know this district inside and out,” Netcoh said. “They can certainly help make this district run much more smoothly than it has been running.”
Committee revises 2020 budget
“The budget is balanced by sustaining a number of cuts made at the beginning of the year,” according to Anthony Ferrucci, Executive Director of Finance and Operations.
Ferrucci said in order to balance the budget, some cuts had to be made. For example, there was no contribution to the Hourly Employees Pension, no significant replenishment of one to one computer devices, and no achieved staff breakage as a number of positions were significantly delayed in being filled.
“These costs have been noted by the finance committee, they have been noted by the program auditors,
Ferrucci noted that although the district is in good financial shape now, he believes there are “dark clouds on the horizon.”
The revised school budget includes a reduction of $26,60, now a “restricted targeted support that is separate and apart from our operating budget,” explained Ferrucci. “We were notified by the state Department of Education that the English Language and the out of district transportation are categorical, rather than operational funds.”
“We need to fund our programs,” said Cobden. “We need to find the money.”
The committee also discussed a change order of $9,800 based on the educational consultant’s subcontractor’s proposal for providing design and engineering services to meet the City Council’s request for costs and artist renderings of the potential to install turf athletic fields at each high school.
Last month, the council pushed for funding for new athletic fields for Toll Gate and Pilgrim High School. The committee approved the change order, which brings the total of the contract to $121,100.
“This bond that (the city council) are putting forth I feel is not an appropriate time,” said Cobden, who voted against the additional funding.
Member Nathan Cornell criticized the city council for approving the bond without consulting the School Committee first.
“If they want this, they should pay for it,” Cornell said.
The Committee also approved the hiring of a full time teaching assistant at Toll Gate High School to support a student with behavioral needs. The position was not in the existing budget.