By Anne M. Amato

In an effort to save money in the school system's adult education budget, a proposal to offer mandated classes, such as GED and English as a second language, in Norwalk instead of locally is under review.

Currently 70 to 75 people -- including 40 from Westport and the rest from Weston and Wilton -- take the mandated classes offered in Westport, Elio Longo, the school system's business manager, told Board of Education members Monday.

He said the cost to the town is $250,000, or about $3,000 per enrollee.

"Having worked in Norwalk," he said he met with a former colleague there and found that the course could be offered by the Norwalk school system for $520 per enrollee, meaning a considerable savings to the town. "We could contract with Norwalk for the mandated programs," he said.

The move would not affect the classes in the town's continuing education program, he said.

Superintendent of Schools Elliot Landon said continuing ed classes would continue to be offered locally as "long as the class sustains itself." They said they do not recommend transferring that program to Norwalk.

Longo also gave an update on the independent town audit of the continuing ed program's fund balance that declined a cumulative total nearly $700,000 over the course of the last three fiscal years.

He said the decline was caused by applying reserve dollars to items like computer labs and "addressing the needs of utility rates."

With corrective action taken, he said they could close out the fiscal year "balanced or with a surplus." He said had the school system not taken "corrective actions," that account would have closed with a $200,000 deficit.

He did not give details on what corrective action was taken, but said he's continuing to work with the internal auditor on the problem.