REGION 16 — The Region 16 Board of Education approved budget transfers last week totaling $390,350 with an eye on making facility upgrades.
The money was transferred from accounts that are projecting a surplus this fiscal year.
Current projections show that the 2015-16 school budget will finish with a year-end balance of nearly $872,000, according to a report given by Director of Finance and Business Operations Pamela Mangini.
The bulk of that projected surplus, $440,000, comes in health benefits. Mangini told the school board, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, that the number of employees participating in the district’s health care plan is less than anticipated and trending downward.
The money transferred last week is planned to be used on a number of projects, many of which school officials said have been put off for years.
“Some of these items we have been talking about for years. … It gets to the point you can’t do it next year, it has to be done,” board member Sheryl Feducia said.
The projects include renovations to two bathrooms at Laurel Ledge Elementary School — the work wasn’t included in the recently-completed renovation project at the school — and upgrades to bathrooms at Long River Middle School.
Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin the two bathrooms at Laurel Ledge slated for work are in “deplorable conditions.” There are bathrooms at Long River that currently aren’t handicap accessible, he said. Also, some bathrooms at Long River have urinals that go down into the floor and are leaking, he said.
The stage curtains at Laurel Ledge, Woodland Regional High School and possibly Long River will also be replaced.
Yamin said the curtains at Laurel Ledge and Woodland are damaged and the fire retardant material is no longer effective. Officials are looking at the curtain at Long River to see what condition it is in, he said.
Yamin described the condition of the bathrooms and the stage curtains as health and safety issues that need to be addressed.
Officials also plan to use the money transferred to fix a leak in the roof at Long River and do some work on the new district office project, which is currently under way at the former Algonquin School site in Prospect.
Formally approving budget transfers is a new process the board implemented in response to public criticism on how the school budget is handled and to be more transparent, school board Chair Robert Hiscox said.
“I believe it’s a good thing to do and to start the process of accounting for some of the major expenditures that come up during the course of the year,” Hiscox.