Former Glocester councilor questions reimbursement on school projects; Discussion set for Thursday

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GLOCESTER – More questions arose regarding school funding for capital improvements at a recent Glocester Town Council meeting, with officials expected to further address the issue this week. Former Town Councilor George (Buster) Steere questioned whether the town ever received state reimbursements promised by the School Committee on council funding for capital improvements six years ago.

“We pledged $300,000 for five years, and they did the same,” said Steere. “That came from our general fund. But, in that agreement we were told it was 25 percent reimbursement on the project. The agreement was, the reimbursement would come back to the town, not the School Committee. All the reimbursement was supposed to come back to the town. I’m wondering if that ever happened.”

Steere added that the town agreed to help with the project back then because the School Committee didn’t have the funds. Steere estimated the amount the town should have received to be close to $1.25 million.

This comes after Glocester School Committee member Patricia Henry brought a preliminary warning to the council at the previous meeting regarding capital improvements needed at both Glocester Memorial and West Glocester elementary schools. She said major capital funds would be needed to address a variety of problems in the schools, along with a five year capital plan.

Councilor Walter Steere explained at the time that about 7 years ago, the Town Council sat down with the School Committee and came up with a five year plan to address issues. The town agreed to provide $300,000 in funds each year for five years in order to help address issues at the school. The school department also set aside funds from their budget for that purpose as well.

Councilor Jonathan Burlingame had said superintendent Patricia Dubois was scheduled to speak to the council but was unable to be there, but would be at the next meeting to address capital improvements needed. She did not attend the recent meeting. 

Town Council Vice President Stephen Arnold explained that the state reimburses both the town and the school 43 percent for capital projects. He said the council would look into it whether or not the district had sent the reimbursement, and put the issue on the next agenda for discussion and disclosure.

“Reimbursement – Previous School Capital Funding – Discussion and/or Action,” is among the items on the council’s agenda for Thursday, Jan. 4

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