First and foremost, I fully support, and I am committed to provide the children of North Kingstown with the opportunity to obtain a robust, cost-effective and high-quality education. Overall I feel we have a top-notch educational staff, however I feel from the business side of the house that hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars have been misspent and squandered by our school committee. School budgets are unreadable and there is absolutely no accountability with respect to what was budgeted in a particular and what was actually spent.
My first priority, if elected, will be to have a compliance audit undertaken to validate my concern and assertion that the school budget is not prepared and approved in accordance with the Town Charter and Rhode Island General Law. Our school budgets have not reflected all anticipated revenues and expenditures as evidenced by the fact that in FY10, $57 million was budgeted and yet $61 million was actually spent by the school department. Since FY2004, over $1.6 million of revenue collected by the school department for the sole purpose of retiring our school bond high school bond was spent by the school department, instead of being transferred to the town's debt service fund account. Simply this is "Double Taxation" !! Also, in FY10, $230,000 was spent to acquire three new minibuses that were not identified in the budget. These unbudgeted expenditures continue and must be stopped.
My second priority will be to ensure a compliant, transparent and readable school budget is presented to the community, including a school department financial statement. Why - because during the past two fiscal year budget submissions, the school committee did not disclose to the community that it was sitting on a $3 million budget surplus (school fund/school Reserve fund), but rather chose to threaten the community that it would reduce music, art and athletic programs if the Town Council did not appropriate additional funding. I will ensure the threat practice stops and the community knows all the budget facts.
My third priority is to ensure that our taxpayers monies are spent wisely, efficiently, cost effectively and in a transparent manner. I do not support the currently proposed $50 million dollar school bond, which includes a $15M, 12,OOO sq/ft expansion to Wickford Middle School. Our facility requirements and priorities must be reassessed to thoroughly determine our short and long term needs vis-à-vis somebody's wants. I believe all "so called" life safety deficiencies must be validated and corrected and all maintenance monies be spent on maintenance.
I believe I have a unique set of design, budgeting and management skills that provide me with the credentials to represent you on your school committee and to watch over the $69 million of school expenditures. Upon retirement from the Department of Navy I was honored to receive the Navy's prestigious Meritorious Civilian Service Award (click here to see the text of the award). The citation is included on the attachment along with but a few of the many other letters of recognition that I received throughout my career. If elected, I will serve my community as I served the Department of Navy's best interest.
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