Burrillville projected to get $1 million less in state aid for schools


BURRILLVILLE – If no action is taken at the state level to address district projected shortfalls, the Burrillville School District could receive more than $1 million less in state aid than last year, a situation Supt. Michael Sollitto said would be as, “disastrous.”

“The uncertainty with COVID and the impact that had on enrollment, and as well as free and reduced lunch numbers – that has really altered the projection,” Sollitto told members of the School Committee at a meeting this week.

The superintendent said that, overall, the district is fiscally in, “really good shape,” for the remainder of this year as well as next year.

“The one caveat is the unknown, which is state aid,” he said. “Our initial state aide projections are lower than we’d like and that’s the same for a lot of communities across the state.”

It is still early in the budget process for 2023, but the School Committee approved a draft budget at their meeting in December.

Jill Calapai was also sworn in at last month’s meeting to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Vice Chairperson Dot Cardon. Sylvia St. Pierre was moved up to the vice chairperson’s seat and Calapai was named to occupy her former position as clerk.

“That’s called baptism by fire,” Sollitto joked of the appointment.

The draft budget is scheduled to be presented to the Town Council at a joint meeting on Monday, Jan. 31, while the budget board is expected to take a look at the district’s fiscal plan at a second meeting scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 24.

Much could change by then. Sollitto noted that allocation figures in the Rhode Island budget are based on enrollment, and free and reduced lunch numbers, which are down some $40 million statewide following two years of effects from COVID-19.

“Of course, with this being so early in the process, everything is subject to change,” he said.  

With no changes to the current formula, he said, Burrillville would receive around $1.1 million less than the roughly $12 million in state aide received last year.

“It’s disastrous,” Sollitto said. “We’re hoping the the General Assembly addresses that.”

More will be known once Gov. Dan McKee release the state’s projected budget for the upcoming year, which is expected soon.

“That will determine next steps from the General Assembly,” he said.

The superintendent said he’s already reached out to Reps. Brian Newberry and David Place, as well as Sen. Jessica de la Cruz to ask them to advocate on behalf of the Burrillville School District.

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