NAUGATUCK — The Board of Education last week decided against moving forward with a plan to set aside surplus funds to cover the possible loss of a state grant.
The school board finished the 2016-17 year with a budget surplus of $525,681, or about 0.8 percent of the roughly $61.7 million school budget. The surplus comes from a number of areas in the budget, including $87,839 from salaries and $162,954 from capital projects.
Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke proposed putting $210,000 from the surplus into a non-lapsing account, or a reserve account, to offset the potential loss of a transportation grant from the state.
The board receives money from the state for transporting students out of district to magnate schools. State legislators hadn’t approved a state budget as of press time, and the fate of the grant was unclear.
Traditionally, any surplus the board has is transferred to the borough to be put in a reserve account. State statutes allow for a board of education to have its own reserve account. However, the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses voted two years ago not to create a second reserve account for the Board of Education.
Locke sought the school board’s authorization to go to the Board of Finance and request the money be put into a reserve account for the school board.
“I thought it was fiscally responsible to ask the board to go ask for this amount. That is the exact amount of a transportation grant that we received notice from the state that may or may not come through,” Locke said.
Board member David Heller made the motion to allow Locke to go before the finance board, but the motion wasn’t seconded and failed.
Board of Finance member Dan Sheridan “strongly objected” to the idea, adding the full surplus should be transferred to the borough. He felt the potential loss of a grant wasn’t a good enough reason to set the money aside.
“You can use the argument and set the money aside for transportation, for teachers’ pensions, for a variety of different things [the legislators] can dream up. So I do not think the argument holds much water there,” Sheridan said.
Sheridan said the borough only needs one reserve fund, which can take care of municipal and school expenses.
“Hopefully we trust each other enough to work together, for you to know that if the Board of Education has an unexpected high expense, they can come to the Board of Finance and those monies would be allocated appropriately. We have done it in the past, there is a track record there. So there is no need for an additional fund,” Sheridan said.