When delivering his monthly financial report, school district Business Director Ron Bienkowski recommended the Board of Education approve an emergency replacement for a district truck during the board’s November 19, meeting.
Mr Bienkowski explained the school district has eight vehicles, and five of those are overdue for replacement. According to Mr Bienkowski, the average age of the fleet is nine years old. He asked the school board for permission to replace one of those vehicles for approximately $30,000.
The town does not have vehicles the school district can use, according to Mr Bienkowski.
“We have had vehicles in the maintenance budget probably for the last four years and unfortunately, when we get to the final cuts it is always a big item that gets taken out,” said Mr Bienkowski.
By replacing one vehicle, which Mr Bienkowski said could be done financially, he also said it takes away having to replace it in next year’s budget, along with possible other needed vehicle replacements.
During his report Mr Bienkowski also highlighted one transfer out of the salaries budget, $240,000, that represent “four less additions that were budgeted for this year but were not filled,” he said.
Four teaching positions — one at Sandy Hook Elementary School, one at Middle Gate Elementary School, one at Head O’ Meadow Elementary School, and one teaching position for special education— were not filled this year but were budgeted for, according to the report.
Those positions, Mr Bienkowski said, were not filled due to an “active review of the class sizes and decisions that were made during the summer.”
Interim Superintendent of Schools John Reed said he thinks people who have asked the school district to be cognizant of a decline in enrollment will appreciate the news of the four positions not being filled.
“What I think it means is that we carefully monitored the enrollment throughout June, July, and August,” Dr Reed said. “And it means that just because we have a position in the budget, it does not mean that it is automatically going to be filled.”
Dr Reed, as he has said in the past, said this school year is unusual, but the school district has not waited to start to react to this year’s decline in enrollment.
“I think that this is just appropriate management,” Dr Reed said, “and we hope that people understand and appreciate what we are doing.”
Under the “purchased property services” category in the report, it explains $574,000 of Building and Site Improvement projects “are still on hold in order for us to address continuing security concerns.”
Mr Bienkowski also said there were a number of high-cost emergency repairs throughout the school district in the last month, including $3,598 for an underground oil storage tank at Newtown High School, $8,048 for professional cleanup at Monroe’s Chalk Hill School’s library following a water leak, and $8,918 to replace two boiler sections at Reed Intermediate School.
Another recommended transfer this month was $130,000 to the Special Education Tuition category, with the remaining balance in that category expected to be covered by the state’s excess cost grant.
School board member John Vouros thanked Director of Pupil Services Julie Haggard for providing a Special Education Financial Update for this month’s financial report.
“It’s important for all of us to recognize that this is very fluid, and we have no control over it,” said Mr Vouros, after reading a portion of the Special Education Financial Update. “Nor should we; these students need to be serviced. And it is important for us to remember as we go into this budget cycle that in reviewing the [special education budget] it is nothing that we can predict, and that money has to be provided for these students.”
Mr Bienkowski also reported the Sandy Hook School property claim regarding the events of 12/14 has been finalized.
“The insurance company has paid all of the outstanding bills plus the deductible,” said Mr Bienkowski.
The total claim for the incident, according to the report, is $1,167,488.
“So we have been made whole, plus our deductible,” he said.