Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 02-07-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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6 NO. SMITHFIELD / WOONSOCKET FEB. 7-13, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET NORTH SMITHFIELD – North Smithfield school officials are request- ing the maximum 4 percent town appropriation increase allowable by law for next year, though Supt. Michael St. Jean says the increase will only maintain the schools' current level of services without offering addi- tional programs or staff. The total $26.7 million fiscal year 2020 budget proposal, released last month, represents a 2.16 percent increase over the current fiscal year budget, which translates to a 4 percent increase in the town's contribution. In a budget summary released along with the proposal, St. Jean describes the areas where the School Department was able to cut spend- ing for next year's budget, particu- larly with the decommissioning of Halliwell Elementary School in June. The reduction in facilities costs will result in about $55,000 in savings, along with cuts in custodian, nursing and special education staff as students consolidate into North Smithfield Elementary and Middle Schools. The district was also able to reduce some positions due to a projected decline in enrollment for the 2019- 2020 school year. Despite the cuts, said St. Jean, dis- trict administrators were not able to recover a loss of funds expected from increasing out-of- district tuition and transportation costs and a reduction in state aid. State aid to North Smithfield is projected to decrease by $224,048 to $5.8 million next year. It will be only the second time in nine years that state aid to the town, dependent on enroll- ment and property values, decreases rather than increases. "We've been able to bring down the cost of operations, we're able to bring down the cost of salaries through reducing some positions due to enroll- ment, but there are other areas that are stripping our ability to offset the cost," said St. Jean. A major factor driving the budget, he said, is the increasing costs of tuition and transportation for out-of- district placements in both regular and special education. The number of students seeking out-of-district placements at charter schools or in the career and technical programs of area public schools has increased from 39 students in the 2015-2016 school year to 77 students currently, and is expected to continue to increase next year. A projected $134,000 increase in tuition costs will likely accompany that increase, according to St. Jean. "We're not really going to know until the end of this year or even into the summer how many freshman are going to replace those graduating seniors," he said. In an effort to combat the exodus of students for other districts' programs, North Smithfield High School this year introduced three career and tech- nical education programs in music, pre-engineering and business manage- ment. The programs are also open to students from other districts, though St. Jean said the new programs have not yet had any sign-ups from out of town. The district has also seen an increase in recent years in out-of-district special education placements, which can run anywhere from $40,000 to $140,000 per student for tuition, clinical and transportation costs depending on the needs of the child. Special educa- tion costs, said St. Jean, are difficult to anticipate, as the movement of a single child or family into or out of town can drastically alter the budget for the upcoming year. "It's things that we can try to antici- pate, things that we can try to bring kids back and offer the services where we can. But sometimes some students, their needs just outstrip what we can offer in the district," he said. Other cost increases anticipated in next year's budget include contractual increases in bus transportation and teacher salaries. The maximum increase request hints at a possible repeat of last year's budget debate, when early budget proposals asked for a 4 percent increase before dropping the request down to 3.4 percent. School and town officials compromised on a 3 percent local increase, a larger amount than was recommended by the Budget Committee. Several factors still remain unknown for 2019-2020, including class sizes, course enrollments and ongoing negotiations for a new support staff contract. North Smithfield schools request 4 percent local increase By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer lauren@valleybreeze.com ST. JEAN Residents to be notified of new property values The town of North Smithfield has completed its statistical revaluation. Residents' new valuation is effec- tive Dec. 31, 2018, and is applicable to the 2019 tax bill. Do not multiply this value by the current tax rate, as a new tax rate will be determined in the budget process for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Northeast Revaluation Group LLC will send a notification to all taxpay- ers with their new values within the next week. The last revaluation was as of Dec. 31, 2015. Based on a study of the 2017 and 2018 sales in North Smithfield, values have increased on average approximately 20 percent. If you feel that your value is not in line with the current market values, the notice will have instructions on how to schedule a meeting to discuss it. Visit www.nereval.com to check the accuracy of your property data, and compare your new assessment to the assessment of properties surrounding you. Contact the assessor's office at 401- 767-2200, ext. 323, with questions. Zumba class moves to new temporary location WOONSOCKET – The Harris Library, 303 Clinton St., announces a temporary change in venue for a Zumba class normally held on Monday evenings at the library. Beginning on Monday, Feb. 11, from 6 to 7 p.m., Zumba class for adults and teens aged 16 and older will be held in the downstairs space at the Market Square Millrace Complex, 40 South Main St. For more information, contact Connie Anderson at 401-762-4166. The library will announce when the main program room renova- tions are completed and Zumba returns to the library. Free tax preparation available WOONSOCKET – Community Care Alliance is providing free income tax preparation for families with incomes less than $62,000 through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. The ser- vice is offered at the 55 Main St. site, Monday to Wednesday, 4-7 p.m., Thursdays, noon-4 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Schedule an appointment by call- ing 401-235-7187. All preparers are certified by the IRS, and will help with e-filing for faster returns, and with getting tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Childcare Tax Credit. For information about what docu- mentation is needed go to www. CommunityCareRI.org/Taxes, or ask when you call for your appoint- ment.

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