NORTH SMITHFIELD – A final budget approved by members of the North Smithfield School Committee includes funding to hire a new, part time athletics director, along with other hoped-for staffing changes for the upcoming fiscal year.
Members voted unanimously to accept the Town Council-approved budget of $29,623,751, which includes a .5 percent increase – or $108,000 – municipal increase to schools over last year’s appropriation. The school department had requested a 1 percent increase of $215,335 from the town, and the reduction in the final figure had left some questions regarding how the district would use the limited funds.
Business Manager Lisa Marcotte said a now finalized fiscal plan retains needed staffing changes, including the addition of a math interventionist for the high school and a part time athletics director.
“We actually put in all the staffing changes,” Marcotte told the committee.
The part-time athletics hire falls short of what some in the community had have hoped for. Middle school health and physical education teacher Matthew Tek resigned from the role in May, a position he’d held for some 17 years for an added stipend of $14,000.
At a budget hearing last month, parents made the case for his replacement to be a full-time hire, pointing to the demands of the job. And a petition in favor of the more costly full-time hire had garnered more than 200 signatures.
The need to quickly fill the vacancy was cited amid budget deliberations by the Town Council, and a decision to ultimately fund half of the department’s modest request was based, in part, on the fact that this year, the North Smithfield School District is set to receive $1 million more in funding from the state.
The district is now expected to advertise the part time athletics role, a non-union job with benefits.
“It would be an administrative position,” Marcotte said.
Approval of the larger fiscal plan took place at a brief, five minute meeting on Thursday, June 29. The committee was also scheduled to discuss extending the contract of Supt. Michael St. Jean, but tabled the item for a future meeting. St. Jean has led the school department since he came to North Smithfield from a prior role as assistant superintendent in Central Falls in 2016.