Paolucci hopes savings can pay for auditorium improvements

Paolucci hopes savings can pay for auditorium improvements

SMITHFIELD – After being denied funding new lighting and sound equipment for the high school auditorium last year, the Smithfield School Committee is asking the Town Council to divert $161,000 in savings recently discovered in the 2021-2022 budget toward the upgrades.

During Monday’s school board meeting, Supt. Judy Paolucci said Smithfield High School’s auditorium sound system will cost approximately $185,000 and the lights will cost approximately $56,000.

The district earlier this spring requested $241,000 from the town for the improvements in its 2021-2022 budget starting July 1, but the town’s budget included about half of that, or $120,000 for capital improvements at the school.

“We appreciate the support, but at this time we hope that the town might be able to consider a higher amount for this capital request,” Paolucci said.

She said the town also denied the same request in the current school year’s budget, as well.

“We requested it last year and didn’t get it. I don’t want to go for three years in a row,” Paolucci said about the possibility of asking again next year.

Paolucci said rate decreases for the district’s health and dental plan will bring $161,658 in savings this year. She said she hopes those savings can go toward renovations in the high school auditorium.

Paolucci is recommending that the School Committee submit a revised budget to the council and budget and financial review boards and “respectfully ask the Town Council to consider fully funding $241,000 in capital improvements requests for the auditorium lighting and sound.”

The School Committee’s original 2021-2022 proposed budget of $40,579,679 proposed a 1.9 percent increase from last year with a town appropriation of $32,959,846.

A revised 2021-2022 budget request of $40,418,021 is a 1.54 percent increase from last year with a town appropriation of $32,849,327. Paolucci said that is a less than 1 percent increase in town appropriation from last year.

The revised budget also accounts for a $51,139 drop in a state aid estimate for a total of $6,966,851, an increase of $14,624 for tuition to Ponaganset High School, and $4,200 for a heat sensor to prevent burst pipes.

Paolucci said it is normal for the budget to have changes made between when it is first drafted and when it is finally approved, and she said she is happy this may work out to benefit the high school.