Thanks to savings in operational expenses, Region 17 did not have to spend nearly $278,000 from its “bus sale” savings account this past fiscal year, and realized an additional surplus of $115,200 from expenditures that came in lower than projected.
While the school district found itself with a $1.2 million surplus from its 2008-09 budget that was derived almost entirely from a dramatic reduction in the expected cost of fuel and oil, school board Chairwoman Amy Jacques-Purdy said the savings this time came from a variety of sources in the 2010-11 budget.
The school board in past years has used fairly significant amounts of surplus to fund capital projects and returned the balance to the district towns of Haddam and Killingworth.
In closing out this fiscal year, the school board took a restrained approach, deciding to use $6,907 of the $115,200 in surplus funds to switch the Internet networks at the and elementary schools to faster cable technology, and to return the balance to the towns by reducing their assessments of district education costs.
The $277,530 in bus funds that the board had intended to apply to operational costs in the 2010-11 budget was returned to savings and will be assigned to reduce costs in the new school budget.
The school board set aside in an interest-bearing savings the $830,000 received from sale of the district’s bus fleet to Student Transportation of America in 2010, and plans to use those funds over the course of three budget years to defray expenses.
The total surplus of $392,730 – unspent bus funds and operations surplus – is less than half last year’s surplus, and Jacques-Purdy said the $115,200 operations surplus alone “is the lowest year-end balance we’ve had in all my years on the board.”
Jacques-Purdy said the school board also agreed to spend an estimated $110,000 from the district’s capital savings account to replace the telephone systems for the central office and , which date to the 1970s.
Under state laws governing the finances of regional school districts, school boards are allowed to set aside up to one percent of their budget each fiscal year in a savings account for annual maintenance and capital projects.
Region 17’s capital savings account now amounts to about $2 million, Jacques-Purdy said, and some of the funds will be used this year for resealing school roofs, paving upgrades, and other maintenance needs, in addition to the telephone system.