In an effort to build trust and cooperation, the town council invited the Board of Education to return to the town a portion of its projected $531,684 budget surplus at its Tuesday night meeting, with an offer to designate the funds to Technology Task Force projects that would benefit both the school district and town.
Any 2011-2012 budget money that the board does not allocate by June 30 is automatically returned to the town's control. The board is scheduled to meet and finalize the budget on Wednesday, June 27.
"There has been a great reluctance on the part of councils to give any money back to the BOE above that which has been approved as part of the budget referendum process," Town Manager Steven Werbner said.
This, he said, has commonly resulted in the school board allocating all of its surplus before the June deadline arrives.
Superintendent William Guzman at the last school board meeting, which includes the addition of a computer teacher at and the lowering of pay-to-participate fees.
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However, council member Mark Gill worried that if the surplus is spent on recurring expenses (such as salaries) then the town's budget process will only become more difficult next year if town revenue levels cannot support the increase.
"A lot of the suggestions may make sense," he said. "But some of this is short-term windfall, and a large percentage of spending is recurring spending."
A significant portion of the school district budget surplus was due to unexpectedly large utility and health insurance savings, courtesy of a warm winter, HSA plan savings and a town-wide switch to a .
At the , the surplus was described as a way to meet the gap between the school board's and the 3 percent increase that was .
The council's proposed funding alternative, to give the surplus money to Technology Task Force projects, would ensure that the money would benefit both school district and town needs, as well as be a non-recurring expense, the council said.
BOE Chair Andy Powell and council member Josh Freeman co-chair the committee, which is investigating how to best streamline and update Tolland's technology needs in schools and town-wide.
Improvements to the school's technology system are likely crucial, will be integrated into Tolland schools as early as 2014.
The council decided to convey its invitation to Powell, who could present it to BOE members at the Wednesday meeting.
The council also set a public hearing on a proposed $1,153,600 in bonding to fund capital projects approved in the 2012-2013 budget. A description of the projects and their costs are listed in the council agenda.