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NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — For the sixth year in a row, the North Kingstown School Department has received the Meritorious Budget Award from the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International for excellence in the preparation and issuance of its budget for the last fiscal year.

“It’s really a testament to the district’s commitment to transparency and excellence in budgeting,” NKSD Chief Operating Officer Mary King said. “We are right now, and for quite some time, the only district in Rhode Island that receives this award.”

King said applying for the award requires some “pretty hefty criteria,” and applauded Controller Steve Janelle, who she called the “driving force” behind the district’s award application, for his efforts in putting together the detailed 489 page report submitted to local chapter RISBO and ASBO International which meticulously breaks down the budget piece by piece.

“We are fortunate to have such dedicated, hardworking staff,” King said. “The document is rather lengthy and it can be overwhelming, but just the fact that the data is provided and it’s in a nice format that people can look to certain areas that interest them or that they have questions about it really shows how committed this district is too good financial reporting in a transparent manner providing the public data that (the) citizens deserve.”

In particular, this past fiscal year has been a challenge to the district as itself and the world has had to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its ramifications on all walks of life. Still, King says, the resilience shown by all of the district’s employees has truly been the reason for their continued success in the face of hardship.

“It’s been a tough year for all of us, that’s for sure,” King said. “We’ve had just every staff member in the district has worked so hard and we’ve done so many different things that I don’t think we ever thought in our whole life we would ever do, but there isn’t one staff member that has not contributed above and beyond, from our teachers and our nurses to our food service staff, our maintenance staff, our central office staff, teaching assistants, just absolutely everybody.”

As a school district, the needs of the students are always front and center, and King believes the district has been able to deliver for them during this difficult time.

“Students have been impacted, we know that, and we’re all just really struggling through it but it’s been a really good exercise for me, I mean, to really see what a great team we have here in North Kingstown when we’ve been able to accomplish what we’ve been able to accomplish, which is having our students that want to be on site back on site. We’ve had our ups and downs, but this district has done a really good job with trying to keep kids in school where they belong,” King said.

As for making it seven in a row after the current fiscal year, King said she’s fully confident in her staff to deliver.

“Oh absolutely, 100%,” King said.

The report is available to read in full on the district’s website, nksd.net, by going to the administration tab, clicking departments, selecting business and then clicking on annual budgets.

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