May 29, 2022

Seekonk Selectmen Criticize School Budget

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The Seekonk Board of Selectmen voted Wednesday to place the school department’s proposed $30.8 million budget for FY’23 on the Spring Town Meeting warrant. The increase is 2.3 percent above the current fiscal year.

Selectman Michael Healy noted he was “still struggling with the whole budget itself.”

“I’m still trying to wrap my head around the additional second grade teacher at Aitken (Elementary) School after we put a $13 million expansion (on the building),” said Healy, who voted against placing the school budget on the warrant.

“We just finished the addition,” said Selectman David Andrade. “That formula was in place. To shift it now midway. It throws everything off.”

Chairman Justin Sullivan said the budget process needs to be “completely overhauled.”

Sullivan, Andrade, and Adam Petronio voted in the affirmative. Chris Zorra was not present at the meeting.

Healy questioned whether or not a yearly two or three percent increase in the school budget was fiscally possible.

Sullivan suggested the school department approach the board in January instead of in March.

“I think that’s where we can start to ask some of the tougher questions of why are the class sizes seemingly moving down, why are we hiring more and more teachers, what is going to be sustainable because it puts the schools and the town for that matter in an extremely difficult position of trying to make that decision with two weeks to go before you have to close the town warrant or make an approval,” Sullivan said. “We’re looking for more accountability towards how our dollars are being spent and what’s being done,” Sullivan added. “This has to be sustainable for the long term.”

Seekonk Public Schools Superintendent Rich Drolet declined to comment for this story.

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