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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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New Canaan schools end year with surplus

Published 2:46 pm, Thursday, September 4, 2014
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Schools budget

Line-item surpluses:
Salaries: $566,351
Other expenses: $28,221

Line-item deficits:
Supplies and materials: $129,556
Employee benefits: $100,858
Equipment: $32,818
Contracted services: $31,678
Facility operations: $17,873
Other purchased services: $147,011
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Thanks in part to half a million dollars in salary savings, the New Canaan school district ended the 2013-14 fiscal year with a $134,778 surplus.

The district, which accounts for more than half of the town's annual operating expenditures, spent $77,804,927, or 99.8 percent, of its $77,939,705 budget.

The surplus, which is now returned to the town, was possible largely because the schools spent 99 percent of the $51,632,564 budget for salaries, leaving a balance of $566,351.

The Board of Education approved Aug. 18 a number of line-item transfers in order to balance the books, since several items actually saw a deficit. Although the district has closed the books on the 2013-14 fiscal year, the accounts have yet to be reconciled with town records, according to interim Director of Finance and Operations Nancy Harris.

Some of the deficits were the schools' employee benefits line, which was short by $100,858, and the supplies and materials line, which was down by $129,556.

The biggest shortfall was in the out-of-district tuition fund, which turned out $488,867 lower than budgeted. However, an excess cost grant received from the state Department of Education "helped mitigate" that difference, Harris told the board.

Another deficit, $31,678, was found in the contracted services with outside vendors. The negative balance was largely caused by "the higher than budgeted legal services costs," according to a memo Harris wrote to the board.

The facility operation line item was "relatively on target," she said, with a slight shortfall of about $18,000, which was due to a number of "unanticipated safety and indoor air quality projects required throughout the school district." The shortfall could have been higher, however, if there weren't savings in the district's energy accounts.

"Our favorable contract rates for electricity and oil/natural gas have proven to be very beneficial to the BOE this year," she wrote. "We also continue to manage consumption with various cost savings techniques, including use of electrical consumption for computer hardware."

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson