REGION 16 — An audit of the Region 16 Board of Education 2012-13 budget showed the district finished the fiscal year with an unreserved year-end balance of $744,191.
The results of the audit were presented to the board, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, during its Jan. 22 meeting.
Historically, the board has tried to “carry over” about $500,000 from budget to budget and return that money to the towns of Beacon Falls and Prospect. That is expected to be the case again this year.
Of the nearly $750,000 balance, $500,000 would be divided up between Beacon Falls and Prospect and used to reduce the towns’ education expenses in the current fiscal year, according to Business Manager Pamela Mangini.
Mangini said the main reason for the higher total in the unreserved balance was the cost for out-placing students with special needs. She said the cost for the students, who need services that can’t be provided within the district, was more than expected. Subsequently, the district received more excess state grant funds than anticipated for these students, she said.
With the board expected to return $500,000 to the towns, it will now have to decide what to do with the remaining $244,191. This money could also be returned to the towns. However, Mangini suggested the board use the funds to create a capital non-recurring account.
State statute allows regional school districts to create a capital non-recurring account to pay for one-time capital expenses only. The funds in such an account could not be used to cover ongoing budgetary expenses, such as teachers’ salaries. The money could however be used for projects like repairing the roof at Woodland Regional High School or security improvements the board is looking to make. The board is currently looking at bonding the money to pay for some of the security improvements — the district received a state grant to cover part of the costs — and the repairs to Woodland’s roof.
“I think that it’s a really smart move,” said Mangini about creating the account.
The board is expected to discuss what to do with the $244,191 at a meeting Feb. 5.
Mangini said if the board ultimately decides to use the money to create a capital non-recurring account, moving the funds into the account would have to be voted on by Beacon Falls and Prospect residents, likely at a district meeting.