Newton Public School Fiscal Year Ends With $1.7 Million Surplus
The School Committee voted Thursday on how to spend the extra money.
The Newton Public Schools ended fiscal 2012 with a surplus of $1.7 million, school officials said, and at the July 19 School Committee meeting members discussed and approved a plan on how to spend the extra cash.
Sandra Guryan, deputy superintendent, said the unanticipated surplus came in part from conservative estimating, especially in the areas of transportation and contracted services, and that in each month of fiscal 2012 some savings was reported.
“Usually all the line items balance out,” she said. “I would characterize this (list of surpluses) as a lot of positives, but complicated."
Of the $1.7 million surplus, $358,600 was applied to fiscal 2012 items, to buy information technology items such as 110 iPads, 75 replacement Macbooks, 2,022 licenses to upgrade to Microsoft Office 2010 and a network upgrade for the education center, Guryan said.
She also laid out a list of proposed maintenance projects, totaling $439,000, for fiscal 2013 that could be paid for with the surplus monies, including fixing the Countryside wall, repairing air handling units at Brown, resurfacing the play area at Memorial-Spaulding, buying a collapsible wall at Bowen and a stage wall for Lincoln-Eliot, and purchasing Common Core curriculum materials.
Savings realized from projected health insurance costs, of $333,000, came about because a projected rate increase of 3 percent for Tufts insurance plans did not materialize. Neither the Tufts or Harvard health plans had rate increases, Guryan said.
She proposed using the $333,000 for additional teaching staff, including two reserve teachers (one each for the elementary and middle schools), a community engagement officer, literacy support staff, elementary specialists (needed in art, music and physical education due to enrollment) and benefits for the extra staff.
“Each year, we can never be assured what the next budget will be,” said School Committee Member Geoffrey Epstein. “To some degree, I’m comfortable to spend money on positions to have a good education system.”
With approval on the projects Guryan discussed, a surplus of $401,700 would remain to carry forward into the fiscal 2013 budget for reserves and special education, she said.
The School Committee ultimately voted unanimously to approve the expenditures Guryan had outlined, and to amend the fiscal 2013 budget to add the $333,000 in savings from the health care projection savings.