Tom Clay

Fingerprint Policy Delayed, Questions Asked on Budget Figures

The following is an overview of the fourth portion of the June 2, 2014 Westford School Committee meeting. For a list

Tom Clay

Tom Clay

of all the portions of the meeting, click here.

A full video of the meeting is available at westfordcat.org

 

9:19 p.m. – School Department Finance Director Kathy Auth began a review of the quarterly school budget is currently down to $192,000 for the last month of the fiscal year, which she considered low.

She added that would be much lower if not for circuit breaker reimbursements of approximately $250,000.

Auth hopes to carry over circuit breaker receipts of nearly $1.2 million to offset ongoing costs and she added that heating and electricity costs have been high and that net metering savings have not yet materialized, but those savings should materialize starting this month.

Auth believes that eventually those savings will come in, but it may be difficult to find $100,000 if they don’t come in.

The School Choice budget is expected to be approximately $400,000 and Auth said some money expected for next year for a kindergarten teacher had been used this year.

Auth concluded that next year will be a difficult budget year, and that needed to be kept in mind when dealing with the technological issues discussed earlier in the meeting.

If any money is left over at the end of the year, Auth said that the best route would be to pre-pay special education funding. No money is expected to be paid back to the town government, but there is an expectation from the town that special education will be pre-paid.

Murray asked if a vote was needed for pre-paid. Auth said it would be appreciated, but is not needed. Murray asked if that can be confirmed and also asked about a spike in the therapeutic services program.

Auth replied that it is a new reality and this spike will be the norm moving forward, with Murray asking that the committee budget for this moving forward.

Murray asked additional questions on a variety of budget line items, such as kindergarten programs.

Kohl asked Auth for recommendations to adjust the budget during the year due to significant deficits that have come from since the end of March, particularly regarding other items that are significantly underfunded.

Auth said that it’s difficult to predict since there are changes over the year, specifically regarding moving money from salaries into maintenance.

Olsen said that part of the problem is the fact that $3.5 million of the budget comes from alternative sources, calling it “duct tape” and that other school districts do this.

Auth said in a perfect world, salary would be moved into maintenance before personnel shortcomings were known and that any surpluses would be returned at the end of the year.

Harkness asked if therapeutic reimbursements came from Medicaid, Auth said there were partially reimbursed. Harkness said that the money from reimbursements should not go into the general fund, but Olsen said the reasoning is that the money is the town’s to give initially.

Benoit then asked a question regarding school window replacements and their costs.

Auth replied, and added information on limited costs in future years regarding the replacements as well as energy savings expected.

9:40 p.m. – The School Committee then went to the second reading of the proposed fingerprinting policy.

Kohl noted concerns over a time frame to challenge a check and impacts of negative findings discovered in checks.

Kohl also was unsure what SAFIS is.

Murray requested that all instances of “insert name of the entity” in the proposed policy be clarified.

Keele at this point said that the policy’s determination be delayed until the next meeting.

9:44 p.m. – Olsen then gave an update on the newly agreed school nurses’ contract, which was approved unanimously.

The board then approved budget warrants and past meeting minutes.