TITLE 16
Education

CHAPTER 16-3
Establishment of Regional School Districts [See Title 16 Chapter 97 – The Rhode Island Board of Education Act]

SECTION 16-3-11


§ 16-3-11 School committees of regional school districts – Powers and duties.

(a) A regional school district established under the provisions of § 16-3-10 shall be a body politic and corporate with all the powers and duties conferred by law upon school committees and with the following additional powers and duties:

(1) To adopt a name and a corporate seal.

(2) To sue and be sued but only to the same extent and upon the same conditions that a city or town may sue or be sued.

(3)(i) To acquire by purchase, gift, or other means of transfer or by condemnation, land, and improvements within the district as a site for a school or schools. To acquire also by this method the rights of way and other easements as may be required in connection with the use of the site.

(ii) For the purpose of acquiring land by condemnation for the site, the regional district is given all the powers conferred upon cities or towns for the condemnation of land for school purposes by § 16-9-5; provided, that the amount of land taken by the committee may exceed five (5) acres but shall not exceed thirty (30) acres for any one building site. The description, plat, and statement of the land taken under this chapter shall be signed by the chairperson of the regional district school committee and filed in the records of land evidence as provided in § 16-9-6. The owners of land or any persons entitled to any estate or interest in it taken by the committee shall have the same right of petition, the right of jury trial, and all other rights under the provisions of §§ 16-9-7 and 16-9-8.

(iii) Upon the filing of the description, plat, and statement of the land taken, the title to the land shall vest absolutely and in fee simple in the regional school district notwithstanding that any of the land taken is devoted to a public use, and the district, acting by and through the district committee and its duly authorized agents, may immediately enter and take possession of the land without any process of law required by statute or common law, and remove any or all buildings, property, or other impediments, and occupy, use, and improve the land for the purposes of this chapter notwithstanding any other provision of law.

(iv) The district, through its committee, is authorized and empowered to pay for the cost of acquiring land for the school site from the proceeds received from the sale of bonds issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, whether the property is acquired by purchase or by condemnation, or partly by purchase and partly by condemnation.

(4) To secure competent architectural and engineering services for the taking of surveys, the preparation of plans and specifications for the construction and equipment of a school or schools in the district, and to employ clerical assistance as may be necessary.

(5) To construct, furnish, and equip schools and improve the grounds upon which the schools are located and to make additions to the schools as may be needed.

(6) To make all contracts and agreements that may be necessary for the exercise of the powers vested in the district school committee by subdivisions (3), (4), and (5) of this subsection;

(7) To issue under its corporate name and seal bonds in serial form to an amount not exceeding the debt limits as described in this chapter. The bonds shall be signed by the chairperson and treasurer of the regional school district committee; the principal and interest shall be payable in any coin or currency of the United States that, at the time of payment, is legal tender for public and private debts, and the debt secured by the bonds shall be obligatory on the district to the same extent as other debts lawfully contracted by the district.

(8) To borrow temporarily and to issue temporary notes of the district, the proceeds of which shall be used only for the purposes set forth in subdivisions (3), (4), and (5) of this subsection. Each authorized issue shall constitute a separate loan. Each issue may be for a period of not more than three (3) years and notes issued for a shorter period may be refunded or renewed from time to time by the issue of other temporary notes maturing within the required period of three (3) years, provided, that the period from the date of issue of the original loan to the date of maturity of the refunding or renewal loans shall not be more than three (3) years. Temporary notes of the district shall be signed by the chairperson and treasurer of the regional district school committee, and may bear interest or be sold at a discount. The period and discount or interest rate and other particulars of the temporary notes shall be fixed by the district committee. The temporary notes and renewal notes, including interest or discount on the notes and the expense of preparing, issuing, and marketing the notes, shall, unless otherwise taken care of, be funded by the issue of serial bonds under the provisions of subdivision (7) of this subsection. The aggregate principal amount of temporary notes issued and outstanding under this subdivision shall not at any time exceed the sum of the serial bonds authorized to be issued.

(9) To incur temporary debt after the district school or schools are constructed and in operation in anticipation of revenue to be received.

(10) To apply for and receive, accept, and use any state or federal funds or assistance, or both, as may be provided, whether in the form of a grant or a loan, or both, on the same basis as other school districts, but subject to the provisions of this chapter; to receive, accept, and use any gift from private sources; to receive and disburse funds for any district purpose.

(11) To publish an annual report containing a detailed financial statement showing the total receipts and expenditures of the period covered by the report together with additional information relating to the maintenance and operating of the school or schools as may be deemed necessary by the regional district school committee.

(12) To engage legal counsel.

(13) To engage and employ a superintendent of the district who may also be a principal of a district school or schools on a contractual basis for either a definite or indefinite term as the regional school district school committee shall decide. The person employed shall have all the powers and duties imposed upon a superintendent of schools by law.

(b) The powers, duties, and liabilities of a regional school district as set forth in this chapter, together with any other powers and duties pertaining to school committees prescribed by the laws of this state and not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter, shall be vested in and exercised by a regional district school committee organized in accordance with the terms of the agreement. The committee shall choose by ballot a chairperson from its membership. It shall also appoint a clerk and a treasurer who may be the same person, and who need not be a member or members of the committee. The treasurer shall receive and take charge of all money belonging to the district and shall pay all bills and indebtedness of the district that have been approved by the committee; provided, that expenditures, encumbrances, and accruals shall not in any fiscal year exceed the total revenue belonging to the district. Should the treasurer estimate that actual expenses may exceed total available revenue in any fiscal year, he or she shall notify the school committee and the superintendent of schools, and the chief elected officials of the cities or towns. Purchase orders or financial commitments shall not be authorized even on the order of the school committee unless it can be proven that there will not be an excess of expenditures, encumbrances, and accruals over revenues. The clerk and the treasurer shall give bond to the district in the sum and with the surety as shall be satisfactory to the committee and conditioned for the faithful performance of the duties of the office.

(c) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit a regional district school committee from negotiating and contracting with school employees and teachers for services to be rendered in the ensuing fiscal years pursuant to chapters 9.3 and 9.4 of title 28.

(d) The regional district school committee shall annually cause an audit to be made of the accounts of the regional school district and on completion of each audit, a report shall be made to the chairperson of the committee.

(e)(1) Notwithstanding any provisions of the general laws to the contrary, the requirement defined in this subsection shall apply. The school committee of each school district shall be responsible for maintaining a school budget which does not result in a debt.

(2) The school committee shall, within thirty (30) days after the close of the first and second quarters of the state's fiscal year, adopt the budget as may be necessary to enable it to operate without incurring a debt, as described in subdivision (1) of this subsection.

(3) In the event that any obligation, encumbrance or expenditure by a superintendent of schools or a school committee is in excess of the amount budgeted or that any revenue is less than the amount budgeted, the school committee shall within five (5) working days of its discovery of potential or actual over expenditure or revenue deficiency, submit a written statement of the amount of and cause for the over obligation or over expenditure or revenue deficiency to the town council president and such other person who by local charter or statute serves as the city or town's executive officer; the statement shall further include a statement of the school committee's plan for corrective actions necessary to meet the requirements of subdivision (1) of this subsection. The plan shall be approved by the auditor general.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1958, ch. 197, § 1; P.L. 1980, ch. 152, § 3; P.L. 1981, ch. 397, § 1; P.L. 1988, ch. 84, § 72; P.L. 1988, ch. 336, § 5; P.L. 1991, ch. 44, art. 44, § 2.)