School District Implements Budget Freeze

The Board of Education was informed at its meeting on Tuesday, May 7, the district has implemented a budget freeze for the current spending year.

With the end of the current fiscal year approaching, Acting Superintendent of Schools John Reed and district Business Director Ronald Bienkowski explained why the school district has implemented a budget freeze that will only allow costs that are considered “musts” to go through.

Mr Bienkowski noted that at the time of his last monthly financial report for the school board, the district’s projected balance for the 2012-13 fiscal year was approximately $1,700.

“We know that there has been a confluence of events that really dictate at this time that we use extreme caution,” Mr Bienkowski said.

As Mr Bienkowski explained, a number of unexpected costs have come up since his last financial report, including a lower than anticipated reimbursement for the district’s Special Education Excess Cost Grant, an expected vacation accumulation payment for a departing school administrator, and roughly $40,000 in tuition for home-bound schooling costs.

While the district has submitted insurance claims for occurrences following and related to 12/14, Mr Bienkowski warned it would be unwise to expect all of the costs to be reimbursed.

“There are a lot of moving pieces in trying to determine what the balance is,” said Mr Bienkowski, noting more time is needed to determine what the new projected budget balance is.

Dr Reed explained this budget freeze is different than prior budget freezes, which typically happen earlier in the fiscal year.

Also during the board’s meeting, the four members present — Vice Chair Laura Roche, Secretary Cody McCubbin, Keith Alexander, and John Vouros — voted unanimously to approve a modified version of Newtown’s lease to use Monroe’s Chalk Hill Middle School as home for Sandy Hook School until June of 2016, or until Newtown decides to terminate the lease.

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Budget vote

Dr Reed’s freeze on BOE expenditure certainly points out how tight we have cut the previous budgets. This year the BOE budget request was again cut, and again disproportionately compared to the small cut to the BOS request. There is considerable fluff in the BOS municipal budget that can be removed we no impact to service. Until that is done I urge the taxpayers to vote no on the Municipal budget.

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