Smithfield bond information to be distributed with tax bills

Smithfield bond information to be distributed with tax bills

SMITHFIELD – Along with their tax bills, town residents will receive information on the $4.5 million fire station bond, as well as the $45 million school reconfiguration bond, including facts about tax impacts, the scope of each project, details on current bond indebtedness and more.

Supt. Judy Paolucci said neither the School Committee nor the Town Council should sell the school project to the public, and the information should only be based on facts.

“There is a thin line between selling and facts,” she said.

With the possibility of 40 to 55 percent reimbursement of funds for the reconfiguration project through the Rhode Island Department of Education, school officials believe it is important to share an array of possible outcomes.

The School Committee, at its June 28 meeting, made recommendations for informational sheets to be distributed to the town.

Representatives Thomas Winfield and Gregory Costantino, as well as Sen. Stephen Archambault, who all attended a June 5 meeting, asked council and school board members to ensure the tax rates will not exceeed limits if the proposed $45 million elementary school reconfiguration bond passes.

During the June 5 meeting, town and school officials agreed to send information out to voters regarding costs associated with the bond.

Committee member Rose Marie Cipriano applauded Paolucci’s attempts to limit costs. Over three years, the elementary reconfiguration committee worked to lower initial projected costs of $162 million down to the current $45 million figure.

“That needs to be said over and over again as to the kind of work that went into making sure due diligence was put in for the taxpayers,” Cipriano said.

Also last Thursday, the School Committee approved the Technology Department purchasing 740 Hewlett Packard Chromebooks for $305,620, and 420 laptop cases at $10,395. This year’s graduating seniors returned the final supply of original Chromebooks handed out as part of the one-to-one student to laptop initiative.

Former director of technology, Paul Barrette, who will begin his role as principal at Old County Road School this fall, said it is possible to use scrap parts from the older models.

Barrette said the two technicians in the office were going through the returned laptops, and would send a report to Paolucci as soon as possible.

“They’re really not of use anymore and pretty beat up at this point,” Barrette said.

It will be up to the new technology director to decide whether it is worth the time to scrap parts or attempt to resell the computers, he said.

Two factors leading to the increased need for new Chromebooks are the school replacing two-thirds of the teachers’ Chromebooks, and a spike in students enrolled in the sixth grade this fall.

Last year, the school spent a little more than $280,000 on laptops, according to Barrette, but purchased 120 fewer laptops.