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2/5/2014 2:00:00 PM
Spending Freeze for Jefferson Village School

By Dominik Lobkowicz

With a projected shortfall in revenue of close to $60,000, many parts of Jefferson Village School's budget will be under a spending freeze until the end of the school year.

The projected shortfall of $57,555.50 comes largely from a previously anticipated $20,000 positive fund balance left over from the last school year that turned out to be a $69,976 negative fund balance, according to JVS financial documents.

AOS 93 Superintendent Steve Bailey and Business Manager Kati Hunt shared the situation and the budget freeze at the Feb. 3 meeting of the Jefferson School Committee.

AOS 93 Superintendent Steve Bailey (center) speaks to Jefferson School Committee member Robert Westrich at the committee's Feb. 3 meeting. At the meeting, Bailey and Business Manager Kati Hunt (left) announced a spending freeze for Jefferson Village School to help cover a projected revenue shortfall and create a fund balance for the next school year. (D. Lobkowicz photo)
AOS 93 Superintendent Steve Bailey (center) speaks to Jefferson School Committee member Robert Westrich at the committee's Feb. 3 meeting. At the meeting, Bailey and Business Manager Kati Hunt (left) announced a spending freeze for Jefferson Village School to help cover a projected revenue shortfall and create a fund balance for the next school year. (D. Lobkowicz photo)
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According to Bailey, the school appeared to be in better financial shape last year than it actually was, due to unexpected expenditures in the spring and revenues coming in lower than were expected.

Consequently, the budget needs to be monitored more closely this year, Bailey said, and he, Hunt, Principal Peter Gallace, and the school's auditor, Fred Brewer, went through it to find areas that could be frozen.

"It's a cautious approach to ensure we have money to start the budget," Bailey said.

"Most of the freeze has to do with supplies for the school, ... it shouldn't have that much of an effect on the rest of the school year because the teachers already have most of their supplies," Gallace said in an interview Feb. 4.

The freeze also does not necessarily freeze all the lines at their current levels, but sets a lower cap for spending than was originally budgeted, Gallace said.

The goal is for the students to have the same experience they would have had had there not been a freeze, and should there be a need, certain things could be reinstated, he said.

"It's just our goal not to use those lines so we'll have a carry forward balance," Gallace said.

According to financial documents Hunt provided, the freezes and other projected savings will reduce expenditures for the year by $147,740.10. After accommodating the revenue shortfall, it would leave the school with a positive fund balance of $90,184.67 to start off the next school year.

At the committee meeting, Hunt said the school needs to have a fund balance to start the year off with, and the $90,000 still doesn't come close to the 3 percent of the budget that auditor Fred Brewer recommends the school carry as a fund balance.

"We're nowhere near that," she said.

Between frozen lines and anticipated savings in other lines, the school is projected to save in the following budget categories: $29,993.21 in regular instruction, $79,826.15 in special education instruction, $1806 in other instruction, $9096.93 in student and staff support, $819 for system administration, and $960.87 in school administration.

In special education, $49,581.50 in projected savings in special placement tuition for private schools is the result of a new billing practice with Lincoln Academy where the AOS 93 towns' share of the costs is split based on the number of their students in the program, according to Hunt.





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