End-of-year school savings fund various projects

With the fiscal year closed out, the Milford Board of Education has realized more than $1 million in savings in its $91.95 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The board ended the year with a surplus of $1,199,373, and is directing the money toward building and grounds projects, as well as to purchase new equipment, furniture and computers.

Through the board’s June 11 meeting, it had $927,000 in surplus, beyond other additional monies shifted to cover shortfalls in two accounts totaling $60,900: Life insurance and Blue Cross/Blue Shield Over 65.

At its July 9 meeting, the board authorized an additional transfer to the health insurance account totaling $56,465, leaving $272,373, moving the rest to fund unspecified building and grounds projects.

At its June 11 meeting, the board had voted to transfer $572,000 into building and grounds projects, and $355,000 into equipment, furniture and fixtures, computers, capital equipment. Combined with the July transfer, this means the district plans to fund $844,373 in building and grounds projects.

Chief Operations Officer James L. Richetelli Jr. listed the budget transfers in an agenda item for the board for each meeting. When the figures for the two meetings are combined, the bulk of the funding is coming from three salary accounts: Retirements Severance, $293,329; Teacher Substitutes, $259,424, and Teacher Salaries, $177,571.

According to Richetelli’s report, the retirement account is lower because only 12 teachers had submitted retirement papers to date, while the board budgets for 18 retirements.

Teacher substitutes have a projected surplus “due to the district’s ongoing concerted effort to reduce the number of days teachers are pulled out of classrooms for professional development, curriculum work, etc.,” wrote Richetelli.

Also, the teacher salary account has a surplus due to teacher vacancies and unpaid leaves of absence.

Other accounts with significant savings include Transportation, Regular Education, $128,977; Property/Liability Insurance, $81,900; Custodian/Maintenance Salaries, $120,718, and Telecommunications, $72,109.

The transportation savings resulted from various factors, including a continued consolidation of bus routes, and a better than expected bid price on fuel. Insurance savings resulted from a better negotiated rate.

Custodial and maintenance savings occurred due to unexpected midyear retirements and resignations. The district saved money on its phone system by completing the change from traditional phone lines to Voice Over Internet Protocol.

Richetelli wrote that the building and grounds projects and the various purchases would be taken from a list included in his May 31, 2018 year-end memo to the school superintendent. The estimated cost for all projects on the list is about $2 million.

In an email, Richetelli indicated the board gives school administrators the discretion to decide which projects to fund with a full report and accounting of the projects at its October meeting.

The most expensive potential project is $300,000 to $400,000 for paving, sidewalk, curbing and miscellaneous grounds repair at the two high schools, and four elementary schools. The next most expensive potential project is $100,000 to $150,000 to replace rooftop HVAC units in cafeterias and kitchens, along with various repairs and upgrades at six schools.

Other suggested projects include $80,000 to $120,000 to replace cafeteria tables and benches at Orchard Hills and Live Oaks Schools; $90,000 to $100,000 to replace classroom cubbies and middle school lockers at Harborside Middle School, and four elementary schools, and $40,000 to $80,000 for window repairs at four elementary schools.

The list also contains suggestions for improvements for emergency lighting systems, additional security cameras, playground repairs and upgrades, and purchase of Chromebooks for K-2 classrooms.