Schools not affected by state budget impasse...yet

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While the state budget impasse has thrown some school departments for a loop questioning whether they will get the additional state funding they need to make their budgets, Warwick’s School Department business officer is taking a “wait and see” posture.

Anthony Ferrucci called the budget situation “beyond words,” adding, “we’re not making any serious adjustments yet.”

Nonetheless, Ferrucci has questions about the numbers.

As a result of the impasse, supposedly the state is operating under the terms of the fiscal year budget that expired on June 30 until a new budget is enacted. At least that is what departments are being told.

That being the case, Ferrucci expects Warwick schools should receive $38,246,000 in state funding, or the amount it was allocated for the past fiscal year. Then if the state budget as approved by the House is enacted for fiscal year 2018, state aid should increase to $39,040,000.

Ferrucci doesn’t see the difference as dramatically affecting the department cash flow when spread over 12 months. It is something the department should be able to absorb with the scheduling of payments.

Mayor Scott Avedisian sees it that way, too.

“We’re in a better position than some cities,” Avedisian said referencing Providence that is faced with significant program changes to address a shortfall of $12.6 million.

Avedisian said he has talked with Superintendent Philip Thornton.

“We can cover it for a while,” he said.

That would be fine, but the department has been thrown a curveball. Rather than the $38.2 million in state funding for the 2017 fiscal year, Ferrucci said he’s been given a number of $37 million, a reduction of $1.2 million. Ferrucci believes the difference is a combination of refunds for high cost special education, amounting to about $500,000 and group home

Coupled with what the department isn’t getting because of the budget impasse, the shortfall is in the range of $2 million. Ferrucci thought the difference between the two amounts for the last fiscal year could be resolved. He didn’t appear to be especially worried.

“How can they impose a cut [on the prior year budget when by law funding is to remain at the current level until a new budget is enacted],” he asked.

“I’m not worried about it. I’ll wait until they [legislators] come back.”

Ferrucci said he would make budget revisions in November.

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