Sollitto to ask for $1.1 million increase for Burrillville schools

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BURRILLVILLE – Supt. Michael Sollitto will ask town officials to increase the Burrillville School District budget by $1.1 million, and says that without the increase, he will have to cut five teaching positions in order to fund the department’s contractual obligations this year.

The department originally requested $1.8 million, and has brought the figure down by eliminating all requested increases for staffing and supports at the district’s five schools, plus cutting one custodial position, and one bus route.

“Our contractual obligations, if we level fund all other areas, calls for just about a $1.1 million increase,” Sollitto told members of the School Committee Tuesday night. “That’s not including other ancillary costs such as utilities, maintenance requirements and etcetera.”

The superintendent will present the budget plan to town officials at a meeting on Thursday, May 30. He noted that currently, Town Manager Michael Wood is recommending a $728,000 increase, as was also recommended by the town’s budget board.

According to Sollitto, if the final figure is not increased, the district will have to cut a high school automotive teacher, a middle school foreign language position, an elementary classroom teacher and a high school mathematics teacher from staff. The final position to be eliminated in order to balance the numbers, he said, would be determined based on student enrollment.

The district also plans to request an additional $200,000 to set aside in a special account to offset a Rhode Island Department of Education education course.

Sollitto noted that state aid to Burrillville schools is expected to increase by $636,000 this year.

Town Councilors will make the final decision regarding school funding during budget deliberations in June, and it is unclear if they’ll be inclined to exceed Wood’s recommendation. After receiving the initial $1.8 million request in January, councilors balked at the proposal, calling school officials’ expectations “unrealistic,” and “disrespectful.”

The superintendent said that the additional funding equates to an increase in the property taxes of just under $516,000.

“Obviously our sincere hope is that the town funds us fully with the $1.1 million request, and then we can keep all of the services that we currently have for students and staff in place,” Sollitto said.

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