School budget settled at $4.9 million

Fri, 01/26/2018 - 9:15am

The members of the School Committee breezed through their third meeting on the proposed school budget and approved a proposed budget for next year at $4,913,571. This represents a 3.2 percent increase over this year’s appropriation.

A public hearing on the budget will be held on Monday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Block Island School. At that meeting, the final budget will be adopted and forwarded to the Town Council. The annual Financial Town Meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 7 in the School cafeteria.

School Supt. Judith Lundsten answered a few minor points that members of the Committee had. First, there was the question of leftover grant monies for the solar array project, amounting to $18,540, and how it can be used. Lundsten said she was assured in an email from the organization that had provided the grant, the Rhode Island Foundation, that “there is no issue using the money in an unrestricted way.” Lundsten said she was waiting on a more official notice in a letter, but added, given the money was originally slated for an energy project, that the money should be set aside for an energy-related project at the school. “There’s no time limit as to when the money can be used,” said Lundsten. Board members agreed with putting the funds toward an energy-related project.

Stipends for coaches will be increased by 10 percent, adding an additional $2,912 to the budget. The School Committee also agreed to add five work days to Assistant Principal John Canole’s schedule, which added an additional $2,659 to the budget.

Committee member Elizabeth Connor asked Town Finance Director Amy Land, who was in attendance, if the budget was “in good shape?”

Land said the process was just beginning, but added, “No giant red flag.”

Chair Bill Padien said he still hoped that the preliminary 10 percent increases that have been added to the health insurance line items — done so because the final numbers won’t be known until March — will come in at eight percent.