Region 16 sees savings from schools closing

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By Elio Gugliotti, Editor

PROSPECT — Savings from schools being closed are adding up for Region 16.

The Region 16 Board of Education May 13 approved transferring a total of $460,000 in savings from several areas in the 2019-20 budget to its contingency account. The bulk of the transfer — $330,000 — comes from savings in busing costs.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive orders included one directing school districts and transportation providers to amend their contracts so that bus companies can pay their employees and provide them health insurance.

Region 16 Director of Finance and Business Operations Anthony DiLeone said the district reached an agreement with All-Star Transportation to pay the busing company $399,000 for the time schools are closed.

Region 16 closed schools on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All schools in the state are closed the rest of the academic year.

Last week’s transfer also included $50,000 in savings from electricity and another $50,000 in money not spent on repairs to school buildings and program supplies.

The transfer was the second the board made in three months. Most of the money moved is funds that won’t be spent because schools are closed.

In April, the board transferred $525,336 in surplus funds, including $125,000 earmarked for substitute teachers and $80,000 budgeted for tutors, to its contingency account. School officials used $287,807 of this transfer to reduce education payments for Beacon Falls and Prospect, the towns that comprise the region.

As of last week, DiLeone said the available balance in the contingency fund was $698,595.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin told the board last week he anticipates there will be additional surplus funds by the end of the school year.

In total, DiLeone said officials anticipate ending the fiscal year with a surplus of around $1 million, which factors in the $287,807 used this year to reduce the towns’ payments.

Officials are moving money to the contingency account to track surplus funds, which will be returned to the towns after an audit of the budget is finished next year. The school board can also transfer up to 1% of the budget, which is about $407,000, of the surplus to its capital non-recurring account for capital projects.

As of last week, DiLeone said there was $135,423 in the capital non-recurring account.