$111.4M education budget wins high marks from financiers
It didn't take long for the Board of Finance to approve a $111,471,756 education operating budget for 2015-16 last week, reflecting a 2.08 percent over current spending.
The finance board had previously approved a $78,885,507 town budget for the new fiscal year that starts July 1. Both spending proposals now go to the Representative Town Meeting for final action.
Pincavage called the proposed education spending package "the best" of the four school budgets he's seen since he's been on the finance panel.
"This budget was more transparent," he said, adding it gave finance board members "a greater level of trust" in how the money -- more than half of the town's annual overall expenditures -- would be spent. "You have to know that before you can spend it," he said.
"The Board of Ed and the administration worked hard to develop a budget that demonstrated both academic leadership and fiscal discipline," said school board Chairman Michael Gordon. "The Board of Finance's support was a victory for Westport's kids for the next school year and beyond."
He also thanked the PTA "for being an active, constructive part of our budget process from the start." Gordon said their involvement "was critical to the success of our budget and to all of our schools' success."
During last year's budget process, the Board of Education was facing an anticipated $2 million shortfall in its health insurance account that later in the fiscal year was reduced and, in the end, showed a surplus.
The board set up a Health Insurance Fund Review Committee that found "several material control deficiencies," including the lack of adequate supervision with only one person in control of reporting and that "not all expenses were being captured in the health-care account." One positive finding was that there was no malfeasance involved, officials said.
The committee devised a list of recommendations to prevent anything similar happening in the future.