The Cranston School Committee approved Superintendent Peter Nero's $133.5 million budget for fiscal 2013.
The budget is a 3.5 percent increase over last year but calls upon the city to increase school funding by just $1.6 million — the lowest amount the district has requested for an increase in more than a decade.
Governor Lincoln Chafee is proposing an increase of $6.3 million in state aid for the Cranston School District next year — about $1.6 million more than the $4.8 million Superintendent Peter Nero was projecting.
That means the district could be level funded by the city and still not have to make cuts from the Nero's spending proposal, which he has described as a turning point for the district's finances.
“I would say that Cranston is the best positioned city in the state right now in terms of finances,” Nero said recently. In fact, he projects the district could be posting surpluses of upwards of $4 million per year in a few years if current trends continue.
Nero said the community shouldn’t be surprised if the School Committee soon starts looking at how to re-implement programs that were cut during the worst of the district’s hard times in the recent past.
The committee also last night got some projections from the district's finance director, Joseph A. Balducci, that project the district needing to spend $2.4 million over six years to pay for its share of charter school costs relating to the recently-approved mayoral academy that will be run by Achievement First.
Though the mayoral academy will be located in Providence, Cranston will have some students attending.
The district expects to spend $400,000 in the first year.
The school budget is now in the hands of Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung, who must decide whether to grant Nero's request for $1.6 million more in city funds and complete his own budget before sending it to the City Council.