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Ferrucci: Warwick Schools May Face $12M Deficit Next Year

[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 – Warwick Public Schools Executive Director of Finance and Operations Anthony Ferrucci noted during Thursday’s School Committee meeting at Warwick Veterans Jr. High School that the district could face a $12 million deficit next year.

The fiscal 2020 budget’s shortfallwill be compounded by this year’s $4.9 million

under-funded status, the subject of the district’s lawsuit against the Cityin Providence Superior Court to force the city to make up the difference. The suit claimsthe district can’ comply with state or federal laws with the current budgetallocated for this academic year.

The City Council approved a budget of $123,982,464 in June,$6.6 million less than the School Committee had asked.

The incremental increase has been a running concern forWarwick Public Schools. From 2010 to 2019, the Council increased the budget forschools by $14,396, a 0.01% increase.

Next year’s deficit may be as high as $12 million, Ferruccisaid Thursday.

“Next year is going to be even more difficult,” Ferrucciexplained. “We’re extremely sensitive to the predicament that the city is nowfacing with us as well. We understand that situation.”

Ferrucci said even if the city allocates the additionalfunding for this year’s budget, the problem will be carried over into the next

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year.

A tax increase might be necessary to generate that funding,Ferrucci said.

Discussions of the Superintendent’s 2020 budget will takeplace over the next two months. Although there will be cuts, there are manybudget increases as well, Ferrucci said.

Teachers are due for automatic step increases along with athree percent contractual raise. The custodial staff will also receive stepincreases along with a 2.5 percent pay raise.

The district is over budget on health insurance premiums foremployees. The budget is $15.7 million. Ferrucci noted there has been a $1.2million shortfall in just six months.

“I hate to be doom and gloom,” Ferrucci said. “We willchallenge everything

in the budget so we can get the things we need in the budgeton the table.”

“If we thought the last (budget) was difficult, the last onelooking back will seem like a tea party with cucumber sandwiches compared towhat we think we’re going to be facing here. Buckle in. It’s going to be a hellof a ride,” said Committee member David Testa.

Also at the meeting, during public comments, Darlene Netcoh,president of the Warwick Teachers Union, urged the committee to reinstateFebruary vacation, eliminated by the Committee in March 2017.

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“The teachers and students need a break,” Netcoh said,noting it would be beneficial to the district.

Peter Stone, a teacher at Warwick Veterans Middle School,also supported the proposal, observing the schools would save money by turningoff the boilers.

Stone said the schools could be cleaned while the studentsand staff were out, resulting in improved health conditions.

The committee also approved a resolution pertaining to thestate’s education funding formula. The resolution asks: “…the Rhode Island GeneralAssembly stabilize the level of state educational aid for Fiscal Years 2020 and2021 at an amount no less than the highest level of state educational aidfunding between either Fiscal Year 2018 or Fiscal Year 2019 funding, except foradjustments based on enrollment changes.”

The lawsuit argues that in Fiscal Year 2010, the committeewas allocated a budget of $123,968,000. For Fiscal Year 2018-19, the SchoolCommittee requested $130,627,676, about $8 million more than the budget fromthe previous year.

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.