School Committee adjusts proposed budget downward

School Committee adjusts proposed budget downward

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Final adjustments are being made to the School Department’s proposed budget for 2021-2022.

North Providence school leaders announced a few weeks ago that they’d be requesting a total budget of $61,769,242, compared to this year’s budget of $58,668,107.

After the initial budget presentation, School Committee Chairman Frank Pallotta requested several cuts to bring the total increase from 5.3 percent to under 5 percent, bringing the town’s share to about 3 percent.

The School Department had originally planned to request a total of $34,037,237 from the town, representing a roughly 3.5 percent increase of $1,186,977.

With the additional cuts, Pallotta said they’d be requesting $1,005,660 or an increase of 3.06 percent.

Pallotta is recommending a number of cuts ahead of a School Committee meeting tonight, Feb. 24, when members are set to vote on the budget proposal.

He’s suggesting a cut of nearly $80,000 in building improvements. Asked by member Steven Andreozzi whether the cut would impact a needed boiler replacement, Finance Director Lisa Casinelli said they’re hoping to move the boiler work into the current budget so that it can be done this spring.

Pallotta recommended that $71,317 be cut from the out-of-district placements budget, noting that the district’s special education director has done “an excellent job” bringing students back into the district.

He also recommended cuts of $20,000 to the transportation line, $5,000 in contracted electrical services, and an additional $5,000 for snow plowing.

The proposed recommended cuts total $181,317, which would make the district’s total budget increase 4.97, bringing the total budget request to $61,588,107. The adjustments to the proposed budget were approved unanimously on Feb. 3.

Including the adjustments, the district now plans to request an increase of $1,560,000, or 3.06 percent, from the town.

Asked whether he would consider providing that amount or a number close to it, Mayor Charles Lombardi said, “At this time I’d like to give them the opportunity to offer justifications for any budget increases,” though he added that the ask seems “to me, a little difficult to digest.”

“But again, we’ll wait to see what the budget entails and allow them the opportunity for justification,” he said.

The School Committee will discuss and vote on the budget tonight at 6:30 p.m. Then it will be sent to Lombardi before it lands in the hands of the Town Council and back to Lombardi for final approval.