PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Providence public school district is in a better financial position than previously thought, but resources need to be reallocated, according to an independent financial analysis released Friday.
The state, which assumed control of the struggling district last month, released
The analysis found the city’s projected deficit for the district is “likely overstated,” but that growing central office and transportation costs could be cut. Central office costs are $25 million of the budget. Compared to other districts, the district appears to spend about 40% more per pupil on transportation and benefits are about 10% more as a percentage of salaries, the analysis said.
The analysis estimated the deficit at $3 million to $5 million, while the city estimated it at $22 million for fiscal 2021.
It also recommended reallocating resources to serve specific groups of students, particularly those learning English and students in special education programs. At five schools, the district may need to double the number of teachers certified to teach English learners to meet federal guidelines, the analysis said.
The analysis also highlighted a lack of flexibility in budgeting and the need to invest in facilities in poor condition. Most of the district’s budget goes to schools to pay for staffing costs, with less than 4% of funds in control of school leaders. The district’s budget for ongoing maintenance likely needs to increase, though custodial services costs are already 25% higher per pupil compared to other districts, the analysis said.
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