By Kim Siebert MacPhail
At their September 24 meeting, in what was technically a re-vote of the FY14 school budget, the School Committee affirmed the Town Meeting-approved $34,214, 568 school budget total and approved a transfer of $61,289 from the salary portion of the school budget to the general School Committee Reserve fund.
School Finance Director David Coelho explained what prompted the fund transfer. “Through the hiring process and changes in staffing salary rates, we can re-vote a budget that will be moving $61,289 out of the salary accounts— from savings in position changes— into the non-salary, School Committee Reserve account. It’s the same bottom line. It’s just a shift.”
After some discussion about the utility/energy budget, using input from Facilities Director Richard Jones who, Coelho said, believes that electricity and natural gas prices could be on the rise, the Committee determined that it would not yet transfer any of the money directly to the utilities line item of the budget, but that it would earmark $30,000 to prepare for the possible cost increase.
Coelho said that Jones has not locked in energy purchases yet but is closely watching the market for the best timing. “If Richard does get better pricing, as he usually does, he may be able to [avoid the additional cost,] Coelho said. “This is something that, once it starts, you never know—it may a very cold year.”