$1.3 million on school chopping block

$1.3 million on school chopping block

NORTH PROVIDENCE – After the Town Council voted to level-fund North Providence schools, the district is making cuts in several areas including staffing and technology.

Supt. Joseph Goho said nearly $1.3 million will need to be slashed from the school’s fiscal year 2021 budget.

The district is currently looking at reductions in library and music programs and staffing, he said, and officials have eliminated the human resources generalist position in the central office.

The district brought back 15 of the 16 classroom teachers who received layoff notices last month. Goho said these classroom teachers are all needed due to current enrollment numbers.

As for other staffing, Goho said officials are “optimistically projecting that there could be fewer students in some buildings next year due to COVID concerns, which may provide us opportunities to consolidate and leave some currently unfilled non-classroom positions vacant for the upcoming school year.”

In the area of technology, he said the district has deferred updates to various fixed desktop computer labs at the high school and middle school.

“We are trying to take advantage of opportunities to save money and defer purchases and projects impacted by the COVID situation,” Goho told The Breeze.

Other examples of cost-saving measures included deferring the purchase of a new $100,000 science curriculum that the district had originally planned to implement under a mandate from the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Due to the pandemic, the district will not be providing in-person summer school and remediation programs during July and August at NPHS. Teacher professional development sessions to write curriculum, update assessments and develop units of study have also been removed from the budget because schools must remain empty.

The district’s new transportation contract will provide a savings of 50 percent of the daily rate during any virtual learning day next year, and Goho said the cancellation of field trips will reap some additional savings.

“While the COVID situation provides some temporary opportunities for potential savings, it also will require additional unbudgeted expenditures as well,” he cautioned.