Audit shows Glocester schools on track for $239K deficit

Glocester School Superintendent Patricia Dubois

GLOCESTER – The Glocester School Department is projecting a year end deficit of $239,367 on the Budgetary Audit report provided to the Division of Municipal Finance for fiscal year 2023. As a result of a rise in transportation costs, explained Glocester School Superintendent Patricia Dubois, the school now has to figure out a way to eliminate the funding gap.

Dubois said the vast majority of the deficit spending is the result of the high cost of out-of-district transportation, some of it unexpected. That includes children whose families are now homeless, she explained.

“Federal laws protect children that are homeless or DCYF placed,” she said. “They are allowed to stay in their school of origin. So, if they were attending a school in Glocester, became homeless and were placed in a homeless shelter in Providence, they still have to be transported from Providence back to Glocester, which is their school of origin. [The] same is true for DCYF placements.”

Apparently, the rise in transportation costs has affected other districts, as well. Dubois said there is a bill at the State House looking to form a commission on why the costs are so high.

“There seems to be a small increase in the number of homeless students and DCYF placements since Covid, but I’m sure it is happening all over Rhode Island,” said Dubois. “Out-of-district transportation is not just a Glocester problem. This affects all of RI.”

She said the problem began, basically, with the onset of Covid.

“I haven’t done any data work on this, but it seems that since Covid there have been more homeless students, and DCYF placed students in RI, so, out-of-district transportation costs increase when these situations occur in your district,” said Dubois. “Also, the cost for out-of-district transportation itself went up quite a bit over the past few years.”

In order to help reduce and/or eliminate the deficit, the district froze all school spending, except for necessities, and plans on utilizing some money from the line item for other post employment benefits.

Dubois said that for fiscal year 2024, there was $110,000 budgeted for transportation, but the FY24 budget was completed in December of 2023 and in January, long before district officials knew what the FY23 transportation costs would be. Students move in and out of DCYF placements and homeless situations throughout the year. 

“It is always difficult to predict how many students will need out-of-district transportation each year when you are putting your budget together,” said Dubois. “It’s like trying to predict whether you should put enough money in the budget for two snowstorms or 10 snowstorms. You truly don’t know how many students will end up needing out-of-district transportation throughout the year or who may move into your district needing that transportation.”

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  1. This is a really stupid expense. They shouldn’t be transporting kids for years on end to attend school up here- wouldn’t it be easier to transport them in the town in which they are currently living!

  2. What about the life long elderly people who are about to be homeless because of the tax and spend library policies bankrupting once fiscally responsible towns ?

  3. The deficit was not $ 239,367 it was closer to $984,000. The $239,367 was the deficit after additional surplus and another transfer from the town was added that was not in the approved budget

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