Cranston Public Schools (CPS) is asking for an approximate 4.13 percent increase in its proposed operating budget for FY 2023-2024. The district is asking for $180,579,917 and is carrying a …
Cranston Public Schools (CPS) is asking for an approximate 4.13 percent increase in its proposed operating budget for FY 2023-2024. The district is asking for $180,579,917 and is carrying a $2,915,892 surplus which goes into its own "rainy day" fund similar to the city's.
Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse presented the budget proposal to School Committee members Monday night. The elected body will meet on Jan. 31 to discuss the budget and make recommendations before adopting a budget in February. By charter, CPS will have to submit its budget to the mayor’s office by March 1.
On Monday night, Nota-Masse explained the 2023-2024 proposed budget reflects a slight increase and that inflation rates have impacted certain numbers. She added that the current inflation rate is 6.5 percent and for School Committee members to keep that in mind when they look at the increases.
“We have created a fiscally responsible budget, and we continue to utilize our ESSER [Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief] funds responsibly as well, supplementing our Learning, Equity, and Accelerated Pathways (LEAP) initiatives,” Nota-Masse said.
CPS is the second largest public school district in the state and has over 1 million square feet of educational facilities. The district’s 1,500+ staff cater to 10,000+ students each year at its 23 schools. The school department also holds four special programs including alternate education, early childhood, Sanders Academy and a transition program for those ages 18 to 21.
The district’s current operating budget for FY 2022-2023 is $173,423,550. In that budget, the district received $71,186,671 in state aid and $98,511,879 in local aid (from the city). CPS relies on the State Share Ratio formula to determine how much the state and city are responsible for when providing funding to the district. The more successful the City of Cranston is, the more funding the city and its taxpayers are responsible for.
In the budget’s proposed revenue for the upcoming fiscal year, the preliminary state allocation increase shows the district receiving $1,534,927 more in funds from the state – totaling to $72,721,598.
The proposed local aid increase for FY 2024 is 2.4 percent, for a total of $100.9 million in city funding. By regulation, the district cannot ask for more than a 4 percent increase.
“We’re considerably below the cap and that 2.4 (percent), I think, is a reasonable increase,” Nota-Masse said. “Last year in the city budget we received $1 million as an increase.”
As for other proposed revenue increases, the district is looking at a potential 21 percent increase in Medicaid reimbursements. Other revenue (including rentals and monies to operate grants) could potentially increase 13 percent.
As for budget expenditures for 2023-2024, salaries are proposed to increase 4.7 percent within the district. Nota-Masse said there will be people who vilify CPS for giving raises to faculty and staff, but these individuals “deserve to be paid adequately and well.”
“A 4.7 percent increase doesn’t even match – or keep up with – the cost of living, especially in Rhode Island,” Nota-Masse said, adding that she stands firm that the salary increases are deserved.
Salaries also need to be competitive and, while the district has a great reputation, people will go where the money is. She said CPS has difficulty being competitive and finding people to work in Cranston.
Employee benefits are proposed to see an increase of approximately 3.8 percent; the district has no control over this. Additionally, purchase services (outside tuition and services the district needs but does not provide) could see an 8.9 percent increase. As for supplies and materials, these utilities could see a 10.8 percent increase. Meanwhile, dues and fees are proposed to have a 0.2 percent increase.
There are some decreases in budget expenditure including a 4.1 percent equipment decrease ($74,395). CPS offset many of its one-time equipment costs through ESSER monies. As for retirements and staff reductions, there is an anticipated decrease of $1,483,183.
When looking at the whole picture of the operating budget, almost 62 percent of the money goes to salaries and benefits.
“As always, our budget puts students and their educational needs as its top priority,” Nota-Masse said.
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