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School Committee Reviews $7M Deficit, Bussing

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Warwick Veterans Middle School will be the site of the city's continuing COVID-19 vaccination clinics for people aged 75 and older.

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Warwick Schools officials have reported a Warwick Veterans COVID-19 case in the first week of in-person learning there.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] Warwick Schools officials have reported a $7M deficit for FY22.
WARWICK, RI— The Warwick School Department is projecting a year-end $7 million deficit.

Last July, a $173 million budget was approved for FY22. The latest estimates from the finance department project the total expenses will be $180 million. According to Controller Timothy McGrath, the Unrestricted Fund Balance from FY21 in the Amount of $225,000 will roll in and go to un-budgeted expenses in FY22. Salaries are currently $4.2 million over budget.

“This is due to pay raises along with additional educational needs,” McGrath noted in his report to the School Committee, but, “Many positions that are currently charged to the general fund may be eligible for ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) II or III as well as other grants which will reduce the general fund burden,” McGrath said.

The Total ESSER II Budget for FY 22 is $2,519,216. Approved By Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), over $7 million  worth of items were  budgeted to ESSER III, which has not been approved by RIDE, Those expenses are calculated into the projected deficit.

The major un-budgeted, non- staffing expenses include:

  • Veterans Middle School Kitchen and Cafeteria – $900,000
  • RIDE Stage 1 and 2 – $850,000 – Only $500,000 Budgeted Out of ESSER III Funds
  • Sherman Elementary School Mold Issue- Single Source Cost Currently Unknown
  • Gorton/Sherman Upfit and Prep-Mover cost $223,000

“Overall there are 25 more students attending the schools listed which could result in around $600,000 of additional expense to the district,” McGrath said. “This is subject to students continuing to be enrolled.”

The news wasn’t all bad, however.

McGrath said there are currently 83 students attending Warwick Schools from the indicated districts. That means more than $800,000 in revenue for Warwick Public Schools.

Bussing delays, labor negotiations

Regarding the issue of late busses, Camely Machado, manager of non-instructional student services, said a “time study” had been conducted.

“We’re seeing a trend of busses being too late to be the late busses so they’re dropping off the students past the late bus time that would arrive at the secondary schools,” Machado explained. “We would need 21 busses total for the schools that provide late busses too.”

A shortage of drivers for First Student has resulted in delays of 15-25 minutes. “It’s a domino effect,” said Machado, who hopes to start late busses after the winter break.

“We’re working on it,” Machado added. “We definitely want to offer it. We know it’s very important for the students.”

Last month, ATU Local 618, which represents Warwick’s bus drivers, and First Student,  Warwick’s bus contractor, came to an agreement on a new contract, which will run through 2024.

The contract, according to First Student, includes “generous pay raises … increased 401(k) contributions, and other benefit improvements for our valued, hardworking Warwick school bus drivers.”

The meeting livestream cut out during the final portion of the meeting, but the balance of the meeting recording was posted Thursday morning.


Joe Siegel
Author: Joe Siegel

Joe Siegel is a regular contributing writer for His reporting has appeared in The Sun Chronicle in Attleboro and EDGE.

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