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School District Director of Business Ron Bienkowski shared his monthly financial report with the Board of Education at its meeting on Tuesday, April 18, highlighting some preparations for the 2017-18 budget.
Mr Bienkowski said he was pleased to present the March report, “which continues the positive position that the board has been in, this fiscal year. I think we are very fortunate to have the balances we have, because it gives us the ability to offer a certain [amount of] relief… for next year’s budget.”
According to Mr Bienkowski, the school district has received the first portion of the state’s Excess Cost Grant, which he said was roughly $1,143,000, “which offsets expenses and revenue.” The district also expects to receive roughly $391,000 through the grant, according to Mr Bienkowski, but the final amount may change depending on what other towns submit for Excess Cost Grant reimbursement.
The report explains that with the first portion of the Excess Cost Grant, all main object accounts, including tuition, are in a positive balance, “with the exception of property for which the district has paid its final $101,729 sewer assessment in order to provide a reduced budget requirement for next year.”
“This is the first time in a number of years we have been in this good of a position,” Mr Bienkowski told the board.
The report also includes several actions Mr Bienkowski said were designed to facilitate recommendations from the Board of Finance and Legislative Council; one of those, he said, includes spending roughly $265,000 this school year “to provide relief for next year.”
To that extent, Mr Bienkowski said he has some orders already placed and some were planned as of the April 18 meeting.
“We’ve committed $139,000 currently toward items that are in next year’s budget that can come out,” said Mr Bienkowski.
The remaining roughly $132,000 will be left to be spent this year ahead of next year’s budget, but Mr Bienkowski said he wants to “keep tabs” on the remaining 2016-17 budget balance until closer to the end of the year.
Mr Bienkowski said planned purchases with this year’s budget include paper, text books, security equipment, and snow blowers. Tables and chairs for Hawley Elementary School are also being ordered using the Hawley Fund, left by town benefactress Mary Hawley for the school.
Some of the orders have not been made yet, and, after Board of Education Vice Chair Michelle Ku questioned making order decisions prior to the April 25 budget referendum, the board decided to have Mr Bienkowski postpone further purchases until after next year’s budget is passed by voters.
“Overall, I think we are in very good shape. We are moving in the right direction for us trying to mitigate some of the costs for next year,” said Mr Bienkowski.
Also during the meeting, the school board spoke about the annual budget videos produced by The Newtown Bee, which are explained in the related story in this week’s paper.
The board also celebrated students who represented the district at the Connecticut Music Educators Association All-State Festival, and Newtown High School student Rachel D’Ausilio and NHS computer science teacher Kristin Violette, who were named as an Aspirations in Computing Award winner and a honorable mention winner for Educator Award, respectively, for the National Center for Women & Information Technology 2017 Connecticut Competition.