EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Right before the new school year got underway, 12 News sent a five-question survey to every superintendent in Rhode Island to get a sense of how their district is doing and the biggest challenges they’re facing.

Our survey revealed that inflation and supply chain issues are impacting districts in a variety of ways. Eight superintendents said rising utility costs like heating and electricity are affecting their budgets, while six others said construction price tags are soaring, which is slowing or complicating building projects. Only two superintendents said inflation and supply chain issues weren’t having an impact on their districts.

Thursday on 12 News at 5 p.m. and WPRI.com – see what each superintendent believes is the biggest challenge facing their district.

Here are the superintendents’ responses in full:

Question: How is inflation impacting your district?

School District (Superintendent)Response
Barrington (Michael Messore)We were protected from many increases in most cases due to locking into pricing for the year. We are seeing increases in cleaning and medical supplies, shipping, and outside of the district services.
Bristol-Warren (Ana Riley)No response
Burrillville (Michael Sollitto)Inflation has had a tremendous impact on our budget. For example, we have budgeted for an increase in utilities for the upcoming school year but are concerned that our budget will not be sufficient to cover the anticipated rise in heating and electricity costs.
Central Falls (Stephanie Downey Toledo)It’s very competitive between districts. Everyone is looking for work and the highest compensation.
Chariho (Gina Picard)Inflation has increased our costs for fuel, diesel, utilities, food services, shipping, and some supply cost as well as construction disruptions.
Coventry (Craig Levis)Like everyone else, the increased cost of doing business is having an impact on what our dollars will buy. Food costs, energy costs, supplies and materials, and labor costs. The market is much more competitive. In Coventry, we were fortunate to go out to bid several years ago for electricity and natural gas. We locked in very low prices for these commodities over the next three years.
Cranston (Jeannine Nota Masse)Increased costs for construction materials, supplies and shipping of supplies, etc.
Cumberland (Phil Thornton)Inflation is having a direct impact in District and is illustrated in our school construction projects where escalating costs of materials are directly impacting the 4 school projects underway.
East Greenwich (Brian G. Ricca)It’s hard to say, as I’m starting new as of July 1. I have not seen anything in particular yet that leads me to believe that inflation is the sole culprit.
East Providence (Sandra Forand)We are currently completing our budget. We will be seeking a significant increase from last year due to the rising cost of health care, salaries and materials/supplies.
Exeter-West Greenwich (James Erinakes)Oil and gas prices are predicted to exceed budgeted amounts. There are several other areas where increases in costs (food, for example), will impact the depth of experiences for children (culinary/foods classes, for example) based on budgetary restrictions.
Foster (Dr. Michael Barnes)Our fiscal year starts on July 1. We have not yet fully felt the impact of inflation in the day-to-day budgetary operations for the 2022-2023 school year, but we did experience the impact of rising costs during the 2021-2022 school year. Construction and maintenance costs are an area that we have experienced significant increases. This has limited the type and amount of improvements we can make to preserve and enhance our educational facilities. For districts throughout the state, a large portion of budgetary costs are fixed costs for salary and benefits. As the school year 2022-2023 school year commences the costs of inflation will impact our non-fixed costs for items such as electricity, gas, oil, etc. In addition, the costs of goods and materials that comprise our discretionary expenses are increasing which will also reduce the amount of items that can be purchased for the same amount of resources. Moreover, some of the difficulties with the supply chain have impacted the supplies and equipment we purchase to support education and when they are available.
Foster-Glocester (Renee Palazzo)No response
Glocester (Patricia Dubois)So far, it hasn’t been a factor.
Jamestown (Ken Duva, Ed.D.)Jamestown, like most school districts, has been impacted by the inflation rates we are seeing in our state and country. As a result of the impact on increased costs for utilities, supplies, materials, and tuitions we had to make hard decisions this past year that resulted in cuts to the school budget.
Johnston (Bernard DiLullo Jr.)Costs are much higher for goods and services to operate schools. Companies are not bidding on contracts such as heating oil because the prices fluctuate so much. As we look toward new construction of schools in the district, we are anticipating much higher costs for materials and labor.
Lincoln (Dr. Lawrence Filippelli)Prices for construction products/goods have had an impact, but the bigger impact is the supply chain shortages for certain items. We planned ahead but there are some big ticket items (like a slide for our elementary school) that are still a year out.
Little Compton (Dr. Laurie Dias-Mitchell)Just like any enterprise or household, the Little Compton School Department is impacted by current economic realities; however, we are as agile and as flexible as ever and continue to live our mission: to foster and develop an open-minded, inquiring, and reflective educational community that encourages our students to become lifelong learners by providing them with high academic standards and a rigorous curriculum.
Middletown (Rosemarie K. Kraeger)Escalating costs have effected our budget. Also supply chain demands have effected our orders.
Narragansett (Dr. Peter Cummings)Narragansett is feeling the effects of inflation through increased costs to capital projects such as the renovation to our high school auditorium as well as higher prices for energy and supplies.
Newport (Colleen Burns Jermain, Ed.D.)At this time we are studying our budget and reassessing areas that may need to be adjusted.
New Shoreham (Robert Gerardi)This year’s budget was greatly impacted by inflation across all goods and services. One example is that the utility expenses had to be projected significantly higher for the upcoming year.
North Kingstown (Michael Waterman)As part of the budget process we plan for inflation. At this point of our budget cycle (start of second month — fiscal year begins on July 1) we are not sure if our budget estimates will keep pace with inflation.
North Providence (Joseph Goho)At this time we expect to pay higher prices for many resources, though it is too early in the fiscal year to determine a specific impact.
North Smithfield (Michael St. Jean)The impact affects funding academic programs and classroom supplies.
Pawtucket (Dr. Cheryl McWilliams)Inflation is affecting our families who are struggling to make ends meet with rising costs.
Portsmouth (Thomas Kenworthy)We are seeing the most impact on supplies and utilities.
Providence (Dr. Javier Montañez)Our families are some of the most economically vulnerable in the state. Inflation hits our community extra hard. And that financial strain snowballs into other issues like mental health struggles, food scarcity at home, or students who have to miss school so they can work to support their families.

Every student has the right to an equitable, quality education. The city of Providence is filled with many supportive agencies and the district will do all that is possible to connect families with local and state organizations to provide assistance and stability so students can thrive. If you or a family you know needs assistance please contact our Family and Community Engagement Office at (401) 456-0686.
Scituate (Laurie Andries)We are anticipating increased costs for utilities and transportation.
Smithfield (Dawn Bartz)The rising costs of classroom materials, energy, and supplies for maintenance projects has had a significant impact on our school district budget. Because fuel can fluctuate so much, it is very difficult to predict costs based upon recent years.
South Kingstown (Mark Prince)No response
Tiverton (Peter Sanchioni)Lack of state and local funding caused us to rely on ESSER funds that are one-time revenue.
Warwick (Lynn Dambruch)Warwick is seeing inflation’s effect in a few different areas. The first major area that is being affected is cleaning and custodial supplies where In some cases items are double what they were pre-pandemic. The second area where inflation is expected to be an issue is energy cost. The district has locked in to contracts for purchase of electricity using the community solar program to help shield the district from increase. This contract was signed last year and was close to the bottom of the market. We also have long term Natural gas and oil contracts that were signed in previous years that locked the pricing at low levels. Our gasoline and diesel is purchased via the city and we have seen increases but the overall effect is unknown due to the volatility in that particular market segment.
Westerly (Mark Garceau)Most prominently in the costs of our school faculties maintainer and projects.
West Warwick (Karen Tarasevich)We have seen an increase in pricing, just as everyone else has, in goods and services. This of course has an impact on our budget. We have been negatively impacted in the delivery time/availability of supplies/resources we have sought to obtain as well.
Woonsocket (Patrick McGee)Overhead costs.

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