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Warwick Budget Hearings Begin with Schools’ $167 Million Budget Tonight

Warwick City Hall
 Warwick City Hall.
Warwick City Hall.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported the amount of the School Department’s requested increase for FY18, mistaking the total school budget amount ($167 million), with the sum requested from the city ($124 million). The article has been edited to reflect the accurate School Department request of taxpayers.

WARWICK, RI — Tonight the Warwick City Council begins budget hearings at City Hall with the school department’s $167, 016,615 total budget for FY18, $1.7 million more than Mayor Scott Avedisian has proposed for the department.

The schools are asking for $4,781,252 more for FY18, an increase of 4 percent over the city’s FY17 appropriation of $119,482,464. (Additional revenue sources, including state and federal aid, would bring the department’s total budget up to $167 million.)

On May 9, the School Department reported a $191,000 surplus for the end of the current fiscal year, and also voted 4 to 1 to lay off 31 teachers, with Committee member Karen Bachus voting against. The layoffs are a routine budgeting measure to anticipate the need for cuts should the City Council not approve the School Committee’s entire requested budget.

Bachus said that if the schools don’t get the $1.7 million, she intends to fight to cut other portions of the budget to keep the teachers.

“As far as I’m concerned, those teachers should be informed that there are no layoffs and they have a job,” Bachus said.

Bachus said there is room in the budget for teachers, and that most other elements of the school department’s operating budget (building repairs are handled in the capital budget and with bonds) is secondary to keeping the teaching staff on the job.

For starters, Bachus said, “I know where there’s $60,000 a year,” that can be cut, referring to the money spent by the Warwick School Department to public relations firm Martin & Associates, to handle the department’s communications with the press and through social media, and also for an in-progress redesign of the district’s websites.

The firm has charged the school district $74,777, at $70 per hour since December 2015, with about $43,000 spent on redesigning the district’s website, part of a project expected to cost a total of $75,000.

“Personally, I think it’s a huge waste of money,” Bachus said.

The budget hearings begin at 5 p.m. in council chambers, City Hall, 3275 Post Rd, Warwick.

Rob Borkowski
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 Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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