At Monday's Town Council meeting, representatives from both the town and school department presented projected school expenditures and town real estate revaluations and revenues for the next three years. In some cases, the projections could put additional pressure on taxpayers for various expenses in the school system and elsewhere in the town.
Coventry School Superintendent Michael Almeida noted there will be a total of $900,000 for unanticipated costs for fiscal 2014. Out-of-district tuition equaling $200,000 and technology hardware costing $300,000 to meet annual required state assessments add up to $500,000.
“The increased enrollment of 55 Coventry students at Greene Charter School means funds must be sent to the charter school in West Greenwich," said Almeida. “We need to also access technology for students to take the the state-mandated tests on laptops."
He also explained that the school department is hoping to re-open the currently vacant Oak Haven Elementary School next year as an early learning center for Pre-K and Kindergarten students to meet state pre-school requirements per the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale.
The $100,000 move would also make classrooms available in the remaining district schools to be turned into computer labs, allowing for the district to move forward with its technology goals. According to Almeida, one-on-one computer lessons would be made available to students, beginning in grades 6 and 9, with a grade level added each year as part of a 3-to-5-year-plan.
An increase in the teachers’ pension plan of 14.01% to 14.86%, or $300,000 came about when the plan did not remain stagnant as the school department expected it would. Almeida stated that CTA and SRP contracts are not the result of the school department's request for the unanticipated $900,000 and that all assumptions made specific to contracts held true, requiring no additional funding to support contractual obligations.
The school department also presented projected expenses for fiscal years 2015 and 2016, however they are completely dependent on the outcome of fiscal 2014.
During the Town's portion of the presentation, Finance Director Ted Przybyla showed a projected reduction in residential values and subsequent revenue from taxes for fiscal 2014-2015 that could also affect taxpayers.
He noted there will be $2,030,827,917 for fiscal 2014-15 for residential property values - about 10% less than the fiscal 2013-14 figure of $2,256,475,460. Commercial and motor vehicle values will remain the same.
“We have to find a happy medium somewhere,” said Council President Gary Cote of the educational program costs and others. “Something that the taxpayers can live with and that they will support.”