Smithfield school board fills budget gap

Smithfield school board fills budget gap

Eight teachers were awarded a total of $4,802.26 in grant funding from the Smithfield Education Foundation during the June 3 School Committee meeting. From left, Melissa Clepprood, Ann Hart, Alicia Marques-Jordan, Sandra Barrette, Dawn Clough and Debra Hegarty receive the big check. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)
Grants for local educators announced

SMITHFIELD – The Smithfield School Committee has made final adjustments to its 2019-2020 budget after the Town Council made $175,000 in cuts during an earlier Public Budget Hearing.

Supt. Judy Paolucci said changes of approximately $91,000 were made to both the revenue and expenditure sides to balance the budget, which the committee unanimously approved during Monday’s meeting.

After some cuts May 20, an $85,000 hole in the budget remained, and Paolucci was able to add funds on the revenue side to fill the “big gap.”

She said $55,000 in anticipated state aid was added to the budget from an increase in enrollment, and another $45,000 in tuition fees was added to account for an increase of three out-of-district career and technical education students.

“Despite what is being said, our enrollment is going up,” Paolucci said.

The head of schools said new financial software iVisions was able to help find savings from line items in this year’s budget, which helped fill the gap as well. She attributed savings to Director of Financial Operations Lisa Cournoyer, who found a mistake in the transportation estimate and was able to lower the bill.

“At the end of the year, we’re cleaning up lines so we can make way for a smooth transition to the next fiscal year,” Paolucci said.

Already a tight budget, Paolucci said addition cuts to expenditures were necessary to meet a $39.6 million allocation, which included $32.5 million in town appropriation.

After a decrease of $1.5 million in state aid, the Town Council ensured that any additional state aid, a possible $860,367, will go toward the town appropriation portion rather than directly to the school.

Cuts in expenditures include $77,000 in technology and a $24,000 reduction in school supplies across the district.

The committee also approved $3.4 million in pay-as-you-go funding from the state for the elementary reconfiguration project. The state will match up to $3.4 million in reimbursement up front for the $45 million bond project. The town anticipates at least 40 percent reimbursement, but the money is usually paid after being bonded out and spent on capital projects.

“We’re getting the money up front so we both will pay our share as we go along,” Paolucci said.

The pay-as-you-go funds will save the town in bond money and interest payments, she added.

Grants announced

Earlier Monday evening, seven Smithfield teachers received almost $5,000 in grants from the nonprofit organization Smithfield Education Foundation to fund projects not covered by the school budget.

• Alicia Marques-Jordan of Anna McCabe Elementary received $575 to purchase “play panels” to create sensory-friendly play stations in physical education.

• Ann Hart of Old County Road Elementary School received $152 to purchase yoga cards for each kindergarten and 1st-grade classroom to reduce student stress and increase alertness.

• Debra Hegarty and Dawn Clough of LaPerche Elementary School were jointly awarded $412 for microphones and folk tales to enhance 2nd-grade students’ abilities to read aloud and improve public speaking skills.

• Jeff Macari of Smithfield High School received $598 for two 3D printers for students to learn the fundamentals of engineering and explore design.

• Melissa Clapprood, a library media specialist at LaPerche, received $1,137 to purchase a “maker space” station to promote creative thinking.

• Samantha Armstrong and Elizabeth Russillo of SHS received $1,432 to fund a SeaPerch underwater robotics partnership where students will design and build a submersible robot to observe marine ecosystems in Narragansett Bay.

• Sandra Barrette of McCabe and LaPerche schools received $495 to purchase five keyboards for students to learn the fundamentals of piano and music composition.