JANUARY 5, 2021
At a JOINT WORK SESSION of the Town Council and School Committee of the Town of South Kingstown, County of Washington, in the State of Rhode Island, held via video- and tele-conference, in and for said Town on the 5th day of January 2021 at 6:30 PM.
PRESENT: Town Council
Abel G. Collins, President
Rory H. McEntee, Vice President
Deborah D. Bergner
Deborah J. Kelso
Jessica L. Rose
Emily Cummiskey, Chairwoman
Christie Fish, Vice Chairwoman
Kate M. Macinanti
Also present: Robert C. Zarnetske, Town Manager; Zachary Saul, Finance Director; Linda Savastano, School Superintendent; and Raquel Pellerin, Chief Financial Officer, School Department.
Linda Savastano, Superintendent opens the discussion of the School Department’s Capital Improvement Program.
The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) defines a Capital Improvement Plan as a long-range plan, typically 5-6 years, which identifies capital needs in a district and provides a funding schedule and timeline for implementation. The capital improvement plan allows for systematic evaluation of all projects at one time so that a district can anticipate future needs. It does not include routine maintenance but should include required upkeep of the facilities, including but not limited to roof repairs, heating, ventilation systems, and window and door replacement.
Raquel Pellerin, Chief Financial Officer, School Department presents the proposed Capital Improvement Program Summary for the School Department. A capital project is a major, non-recurring tangible fixed asset, with a useful life of at least 5 years and a value in excess of $10,000. The areas of focus are on the six-year plan, and the one year Pay-As-You-Go Capital Plan that is included in the General Operating Budget. This Pay-As-You-Go portion is targeted for technology improvements, and district projects or repairs. The long term items are bond projects or major repairs or renovations. There is a requirement that 3% of the operating budget be designated for general repairs. The total Long Term School Program is proposed at $95,789,600. The expenditures consist of School Facilities Improvement Program in the amount of $85,000,000; General Building Renovations Program in the amount of $7,469,962; and Technology and Districtwide Projects in the amount of $3,319,638.
Linda Savastano, Superintendent presents a summary overview of the bond funding for major project components. Bond Referendum: If the Stage II application for the school facilities plan is approved by the RI Department of Education (RIDE), a special election will be scheduled in the spring for voters to approve or reject a bond referendum for $85 million. State reimbursement for school construction projects is anticipated for at least 35% and likely up to 50%. The General Building Renovation Program supplements the bond program, and supports the long term plan for items such as roofing, HVAC systems, fire alarm systems, and windows and doors. The Pay-As-You-Go portion is targeted to smaller specific projects, including a laptop replacement program, wireless access replacement program and vehicle replacement program.
Ms. Pellerin notes that the School Department is now using the Rhode Island Uniform Chart of Accounts. The FY2022 proposed budget separates the Operational General Fund and the Capital Improvement Fund.
Discussion ensues relative to debt service. The Town Manager indicates that the debt service account is on the Town side of the budget, not the school side so you will see only capital expenditure per pupil.
Discussion ensues relative to whether the Columbia Street High School building will become an expense or capital liability if a new high school is built at Curtis Corner Middle School. The Town Manager notes that the objective is to utilize or sell the High School, Hazard School and South Road School buildings.
Discussion ensues relative to the problems at each school site that need to be addressed, regardless of whether the school facilities plan goes forward. The CIP is a plan for those projects, but the list of projects will change if RIDE rejects the Stage II application, the schedule will have to change.
Discussion ensues relative to the control of and/or disposal of Town property being under Town Council control. Discussion ensues relative to the potential purchase of South Road School by the Boys and Girls Club. Discussion ensues relative to the affordability of the school facilities plan if we have to sell other property to fund the project.
The Town Manager notes that the budget assumed a 4% interest rate when this project started 3 years ago. At 3.2% interest a bond of $85 million will incur interest payments at $400,000 less than what was originally anticipated.
Councilwoman Bergner asks if the Town would lose State Housing Aid if we abandoned the use of the High School at Columbia Street. The School CFO responds that this needs to be looked into.
Discussion ensues regarding the Work Session planned for January 20th at 6:30 PM for the Town Council and School Committee to discuss the school facilities plan.
Greg Sweet is present and comments on the $7 million General Building Renovation Program, funding for unknown costs, and the expense of upgrading HVAC systems to improve air quality.
The School Committee and School Department members leave the meeting.
Discussion ensues relative the Council’s upcoming meeting schedule. The Work Session to review the Municipal Capital Improvement Program has been re-scheduled to January 13th at 6:30 PM. A Work Session to discuss the Town Council’s Goals and Objectives and Rules of Conduct is set for February 1st at 7 PM. Discussion ensues relative to scheduling a Work Session with the Planning Board, Economic Development Committee and Affordable Housing Collaborative and it is consensus to hold that meeting on February 3rd at 7 PM.
Discussion ensues relative to the availability of meeting schedule information.
Adjourn at 8:51 PM
Susan M. Flynn, CMC