Region 16 closes the books on fiscal year

REGION 16 — The Region 16 Board of Education finished the 2016-17 fiscal year with a year-end balance of just over $1 million.

The Board of Education, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, approved the audit of its 2016-17 budget last week. The audit showed the region ended the fiscal year with a surplus of $1,013,451. Out of the roughly $1 million surplus, $700,000 was budgeted as revenue in the current school budget to help offset school expenses for Beacon Falls and Prospect.

Historically, the school board has tried to carry over some surplus funds, based on estimates, from one budget to the next to reduce the cost to the towns, rather than waiting until the official audit is finished and returning any surplus funds at that time.

The $700,000 that was carried over to the 2017-18 budget was higher than in previous years as there was uncertainty with the state budget and what education aid towns would receive from the state.

Director of Finance and Business Operations Pamela Mangini said school officials did everything they could to try and mitigate losses in state aid to the towns.

The board has also transferred funds into its contingency account this year to absorb cuts in state aid.

After factoring in the money carried over, the school board will now return $313,451 to Beacon Falls and Prospect, Mangini said. The money will be divided based on the average daily membership ratio of students, which is a little more than 61.1 percent Prospect students and nearly 38.9 percent Beacon Falls students. The money will be returned in the form of credits on the towns’ education bills.

Mangini said the surplus came from savings in various areas. She said the district saved money in teacher salaries due to turnover, and in healthcare due to a less-than-expected number of employees taking the district’s healthcare.

Mangini said the region also had a favorable year when it came to special education and unemployment expenses. Also, she added, there were savings in the utility bills for Prospect Elementary School and Laurel Ledge Elementary School.

Prospect Elementary School opened in the fall of 2015 and renovations at Laurel Ledge Elementary School were completed shortly after. Mangini said the district is still trying to get a feel for what the utility costs are at the schools.

The audit also showed that the region’s outstanding debt dropped from about $33 million to roughly $30 million.

The food service program ended the fiscal year with a $14,931 loss, according to the audit.

Keith Sullivan, a partner in the firm that conducted the audit, Zackin Zimyeski Sullivan Certified Public Accountants out of Waterbury, told the board the audit noted there is a new food service director in the region, and the expectations are the results will improve this fiscal year.