Shelton BOE: School budget deficit disappears

Barring any unforeseen expenses over the next few weeks, the school district will close the present fiscal year with an ever-so-slight surplus.

School Finance Director Richard Belden told the Board of Education two weeks that, after months of hearing about potential six-figure deficits, the school budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year will have, at present, a $200 surplus.

“We had identified, back in the middle of the year, a potential deficit of $500,000, and through hard work of the staff and administration, in terms of freeze … we have reported out an approximate $200 surplus,” said Belden during the regular board meeting Wednesday, May 23.

Belden said the surplus number is a “good one” and any unforeseen costs would be from such items as health insurance and utilities. Belden added that “the freeze in hiring and discretionary expenditures will remain in place through year end to ensure that the Board of Education can complete the year without a deficit.

“If we do find that we have the opportunity to complete our budgets and come off the freeze, we can talk about that in June,” added Belden.

The major deficit accounts in the 2018-19 financials include substitute teachers ($234,204), special education tuition ($509,820), special education transportation ($372,004) and special education professional and technical services ($251,854).

Belden, in his recently prepared financial report, stated that the district has collected revenues from various sources and the state of Connecticut totaling $1,560,102 as of May 10, and the money has been used to offset certain line items in the school budget.

According to Belden, building usage fees have increased from the prior report (Now $60,000, up from $50,000), and the Board of Education will be filing its request for the excess cost grant revenues with the city in early June. The school board will be receiving $1,529,171 in special education excess cost grant monies for the present fiscal year.

Other business

• The board approved a $7,250 donation for Booth Hill School from the Booth Hill Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization. The funds are to reimburse Booth Hill School faculty for upcoming expenses related to classroom needs and supplies for the 2019-20 school year.

• The board unanimously approved the 2019-20 management contract with Whitsons food services. Also approved was the district’s continuing participation in Connecticut’s Healthy Food Certification for the school year 2019-20.

The Board of Education will continue participation in the Healthy Food Certification program and certifies that all food items offered for sale to students in the schools under its jurisdiction, and not exempted from the Connecticut Nutrition Standards published by the state Department of Education, will comply with the Connecticut Nutrition Standards during the period of July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.

This certification shall include all food offered for sale to students separately from reimbursable meals at all times and from all sources, including but not limited to, school stores, vending machines, school cafeterias, and any fundraising activities on school premises sponsored by the school or by non-school organizations and groups.

The Board of Education will allow the sale to students of food items that do not meet the Connecticut Nutrition Standards provided that the following conditions are met: 1. The sale is in connection with an event occurring after the end of the regular school day or on the weekend; 2. The sale is at the location of the event; and 3. The food items are not sold from a vending machine or school store. An “event” is an occurrence that involves more than just a regularly scheduled practice, meeting or extracurricular activity. Soccer games, school plays and interscholastic debates are such events, but soccer practices, play rehearsals, and debate team meetings are not.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com