School board allocates unspent funds to building and grounds projects

The Milford Board of Education has realized nearly $1 million in savings in its $91.95 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, and plans to use that money to fund building and grounds projects, as well as purchase new equipment, furniture, and computers.
The board voted unanimously at its June 11 meeting to transfer the funds from various accounts with surpluses into two accounts with minor deficits, and two accounts used to fund projects and purchases.
“The surplus is the result of prudent budget practices that seek to save wherever possible,” wrote Susan Glennon, Board of Education chairperson, in an email following the meeting.
“As we approach the end of the fiscal year, these savings allow the board to transfer funds to address the long list of very much needed buildings and grounds projects in order to keep our schools safe and up to date,” she wrote.
Chief Operations Officer James L. Richetelli Jr. listed the budget transfers totaling $997,900 in an agenda item for the board. The bulk of the funding is coming from three salary accounts: Retirements Severance, $275,000; Teacher Substitutes, $232,000, and Teacher Salaries, $155.000.
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.
“This will result in less severance being paid this year,” he wrote.
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, with Richetelli writing, “The teacher salary account is very fluid due to the number and individual circumstances.”
Other accounts with savings include Transportation, Regular Education, $83,000; Property/Liability Insurance, $81,900, and Custodian/Maintenance Salaries, $71,000.
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 remaining surplus accounts are Hourly Aides, $35,000; Non-Certified Professional Salaries, $28,500; Uninsured Coverage, $19,000, and Homebound Instruction, $17,500.
Savings in these other areas resulted from the need for fewer hours for the aides, a vacant position, fewer claims than expected, and fewer services required.
The board needed to transfer $56,000 to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Over 65 account to cover a shortfall in the health insurance account for Board of Education retirees. It also transferred $14,900 to the Life Insurance account to cover a slight rate increase.
More than half of the savings or $572,000 has been designated to pay for Building and Grounds Projects and more than one third or $355,000 has been redirected to the Equipment, Furniture and Fixtures, Computers, Capital Equipment account.
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 Dr. Elizabeth E. Feser, superintendent of schools. The estimated cost for all projects on the list is about $2 million.
In the memo Richetelli wrote, “The items listed are in no particular order. Many of the items included on the list are requested each year during the regular budget process, but due to financial limitations, are often not included in the final budget.”
In a June 11 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.