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NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — The Narragansett school department has presented a $32.3 million budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, an increase of 2.6 percent over the current spending plan.

The Narragansett School Committee unanimously approved the proposed budget at its remote meeting on March 31.

The town has tentative plans to hold public hearings on the school, municipal and capital improvement budgets at 8 p.m. on May 4. The town typically adopts its budget by June 3, as required in the local ordinances.

The town contribution with capital improvements would be $26,769,218, an increase of $363,910, or 1.38 percent, over the $26,405,308 budgeted this year.

Among the factors considered by the school department in formulating the coming budget were typical items such as the cost of contractual obligations and financing long-term capital improvements.

The schools also are making a financial commitment to technology and 1:1 computer initiatives, continued investment in early childhood and career and technical education and growing and supporting programs to retain and attract students and families.

Student population shifts and program changes also would result in staffing changes. One full-time position at the elementary school and one at the high school would be reduced, as well as part-time positions in special education, English and math.

The high school would gain part-time math, plumbing and agri-science positions, and the entire district would benefit from a full-time reading specialist with a concentration in dyslexia learning.

The district earmarked $1.1 million in capital improvement spending. The largest expense there would be $300,000 allocated toward an auditorium rehabilitation project at the high school. Narragansett Elementary School would receive $98,000 for sidewalk improvements.

All told, the 2020-21 budget would increase $831,319 above the current adjusted budget of $31,549,977. Total spending would be planned at $32,381,296.

Salaries and benefits for the 240 personnel employed by the schools account for 78 percent of the budget.

Salaries are set to increase a total of 1.23 percent, with 1 percent contractually obligated increases built in for teachers and classified staff.

The schools are anticipating $2.3 million in state aid, a 1.9 percent increase. A total of $2.2 million from the town’s fund balance would go toward capital and operating costs – about $1.1 million for each.

As of October 2019, there were 1,267 students attending Narragansett schools, and the system has a full-time equivalent staff of 240, including 142 teachers.

Administrators also point out that Narragansett is ranked among the top districts in the state. The schools have expanded participation in AP and college-level courses and increased enrollment in career and technical education programs in agriculture, computer science, plumbing and education.

The full-day preschool has expanded and is fully subscribed and the schools boast award-winning music programs and broad participation in athletics, officials noted.

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