Over in Tiverton, the school department is considering campaigning for an alternate budget that would add to its structural surplus. I look at the history over on Tiverton Fact Check:
The prospect of that campaign reminds me of spring 2015. That year, a budget petition that I put forward reduced the school’s increase by about $126,000. (The school budget still went up more than that, but not with local taxes.) The school committee voted to cancel plans for all-day kindergarten.
Ultimately, they reversed that decision after weeks of advocacy on my part and that of affected parents. How much would you guess their budget came up short at the end of the year? It didn’t. In fact, the school department had $1,130,867 left over, a surplus, bringing its reserves to $3,454,163. If my budget petition had lost (or if all-day kindergarten had actually been cancelled), the surplus would have been around $1,257,208 for a total of about $3,580,504.
The most important phrase in Rhode Island public school budgeting is “maintenance of effort.”