Schools to return surplus funds to town

Jul 31, 2018 by

Published in the July 31, 2018 edition

By MARK SARDELLA

WAKEFIELD — The School Department will return to the town $72,567 in surplus funds from FY 2018, after the School Committee approved the move last week.

Not everyone on the School Committee was happy with the gesture, including Chairman Thomas Markham, who felt the School Department had in recent years identified more than enough unfunded or underfunded educational needs to justify spending the money in those areas.

The surplus remained last week after the School Committee did its annual year-end transfer between budget lines that were underspent to accounts that were overspent. School business Administrator Michael Pfifferling asked the School Committee to transfer $679,169 from underspent lines to other accounts that were overspent in the amount of $606,602.

He identified a number of line items that were underspent, resulting in a surplus of funds in the following amounts:

• Heating Fuel $145,132

• Utilities $107,652

• Contracted Services $91,253

• Instructional Supplies $80,157

• Aides Salaries $68,949

• Staff Development $53,169

• Extraordinary Maintenance, $32,317

• Professional Salaries $32,248

• Clerical Salaries $23,433

• Postage/Tuition Reimbursement $20,900

• Vehicle Fuel $13,236

• Facilities/Custodial / Drivers Salaries $8,059

• Textbooks $2,003

• Library Books/Publications $658

Total “Transfer from” Amount: $679,169

Pfifferling asked the School Committee to transfer funds from the preceding total to the following accounts that were overspent and had deficits:

• Special Education Tuition $466,699

• Transportation $78,885

• Extracurricular/Coaches’ Salaries $29,244

• Substitute Salaries $14,243

• Building Maintenance $8,012

• Equipment Maintenance $5,965

• Professional Expenses $3,554

Total “Transfer to” Amount: $606,602

The remainder constitutes the anticipated amount to be returned to the town – $72,567.

Pfifferling said that additional monies from capital projects that came in under-budget will also be returned to the town, but those amounts are reported separately.

Speaking for himself, former Superintendent Dr. Kim Smith and new Superintendent Doug Lyons, Pfifferling said that the administration felt that, “It was important to us to make some effort to return some funds back to the town after their support for our Special Education stabilization request at the May Town Meeting.”

School Committee member Christopher Callanan observed that one of the reasons that extra money was left available was because of the transfer from the Special Education Stabilization Account.

“We didn’t need all of that money in the end but we still needed quite a bit of it,” Callanan noted.

Markham said that he appreciated that the School Department would not have been able to make some of the advancements in recent years without strong support from the town and the taxpayers.

“I am however disappointed that we are leaving $72,000 on the table, “Markham said. “The School Department has far greater needs than to give back to the town $72,000. We have over and over again talked about the number of things that we leave on the cutting room floor when we present budgets. I’m concerned about that. I think there are greater needs in the district that we could be appropriately using those funds for.”

The School Committee vote to approve the transfer of funds was 6-1 in favor, with Markham opposed.

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