ECS fears: Town gets $920,000 from school board
Updated 3:17 pm, Friday, September 2, 2016
WESTPORT — The school board voted to make the town whole Monday, replacing state education aid money cut by the state with surplus from its budget.
The Board of Education voted unanimously to return $920,000 of its $1.4 million year-end balance to the town, while depositing the remaining $513,957 into the BOE carryover account.
Westport was cut $1.1 million in state Educational Cost Sharing aid this past fiscal year, down from the planned $2 million, a difference of $920,000. The total BOE budget for the fiscal year was just over $111 million.
“You will note that we have an unexpended balance at the end of the year in the amount of $1,433,957.31,” Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer wrote in a letter to the BOE. “In light of the recent state of Connecticut reduction to Education Cost Share Grant and the corresponding estimate aid reduction to the town of Westport, it is my recommendation the Board of Education return to the town of Westport the amount of $920,000.31, as a one-time offset.”
Board member Vik Muktavaram questioned whether or not the money could be used for the BOE budget down the road.
“So for this year, while we are recommending to give about a million dollars to the town, some of this may come back in our future operating budget?” Muktavaram asked.
In April, it was announced that in an effort to balance the state’s budget, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would cut millions of dollars in Educational Cost Sharing funds. Westport, which was set to receive $2 million through ECS, had $920,000 cut, leaving it with $1.1 million in state grant money, according to Longo.
Although left with a $1.4 million cushion, at the time the cuts were announced, school administrators were very concerned by the cut to state aid, especially because the cuts came so late in the town’s budgetary process.
In May, former Superintendent Elliott Landon said he would have to work diligently with Longo to close the gap posed by the loss of state aid.
“We are trying to accumulate as large a surplus as possible … and we’re hopeful that we might be able, through some really intelligent reworking of things offset, we hope, virtually all of that,” Landon said. “We don’t know if that’s possible, but that’s our goal.”