High energy costs, cold winter cause budget deficit for Shelton schools

School Supt. Freeman Burr
School Supt. Freeman Burr

The Shelton Board of Education (BOE) is attempting to deal with a $500,000 budget shortfall in the current fiscal year, caused primarily by higher costs for propane and heating costs.

“I will have to borrow money from student services,” School Supt. Freeman Burr told the Board of Apportionment and Taxation when discussing the projected deficit during a budget workshop last week.

Burr noted that funds can’t be taken from special education due to legal requirements, limiting the options on where it can be re-allocated from within the school budget.

He said unlike school systems in some other towns, the Shelton BOE also doesn’t have “discretionary” funds to tap into when a budget gap occurs for unforeseen reasons.

“We will close it,” Burr said of the deficit.

The price of propane, heating oil and natural gas went up this winter, and the school system also used more energy than expected to heat buildings due to the cold winter. Propane is used for the new school buses.

Using subs, freezing equipment purchases

School officials said the current deficit is being closed in a variety of ways, such as using substitutes instead of filling open positions with permanent teachers, and instituting a freeze on equipment purchases.

“We are over by a half million dollars,” BOE Finance Director Allan Cameron said. “We have a bunch of accounts frozen.”

The BOE budget is $65.6 million for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.