Milford schools address $400,000 overrun in heating expenses

Milford Public Schools

Milford Public Schools

Contributed photo / Contributed Photo

MILFORD — The school district has frozen some spending to help mitigate an anticipated $400,000 deficit in its natural gas account, according to Chief Operations Officer James Richetelli.

To partially cover the anticipated deficit, the Board of Education at its meeting Monday unanimously approved the transfer of $207,547.

“Normally, we come to the board in June and July for end-of-year transfers, but because this year we are dealing with some unique situations, we decided to come a month earlier,” said Richetelli. “We use natural gas for heating all of the schools.”

According to Richetelli, the district is anticipating a $400,000 deficit in natural gas in light of the volatility of the energy market, which he says is due to the pandemic, record heat in some areas of the world and record cold in others, Hurricane Ida, changing energy policies and shortage of supply of natural gas.

Monday’s transfer will partially cover the deficit, and district officials are expecting the next transfer to be about the same amount.

“We decided, because we knew we were going to have these issues at the end of the year, to freeze certain accounts,” he added.

Richetelli said the schools had stopped spending in other accounts to ensure a balanced budget at the end of the year. The two accounts they froze are under “supplies” and “other educational support,” he said.

“The accounts generally equate to the per-pupil expenditure of the schools,” said Richetelli. “We asked the schools to put off until next year some of the things they would have otherwise purchased or services they would have undertaken.”

By freezing the accounts, the board saved $155,206 in the supplies account and $52,341 in the other educational support account, Richetelli explained.

“The frozen funds have not impacted any of the teachers in the classrooms,” said Richetelli. “Most of the frozen funds came out of non-instructional items and were an overall small percentage of the total funds allocated.”