Springfield school spending comes in more than $150K over budget
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | September 18,2013
SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield School District is spending more money than they anticipated this fiscal year.
Director of Fiscal Services Steven Hier said at Monday’s School Board meeting the district is spending $150,674 more than the $27.5 million budget that voters passed in April. Hier attributed the extra expenses to four main areas: tuition costs, retiree benefits, occupational therapy and behavioral services costs.
“It’s not good,” Hier said Monday.
More than $111,719 of extra spending went toward a student who required out-of-district special education. Special education administrators made the decision at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
Hier said it was an unanticipated expense, but the school district agreed with special education administrators that the student would benefit from a new learning environment.
“We didn’t know about it at budget time. Otherwise we would have budgeted for that,” Hier said.
Scott Adnams, who was serving his final meeting as School Board chairman, asked whether the student will return to the school district the following year. Director of Special Services Sarah Vogel said the out-of-district placements are for a temporary period of time and that students will eventually return to the school district.
“It’s a huge decision to make. It’s like a balancing act of what’s going to be in the best interest of district and student. We want it to be as short of a period as we can,” Vogel said.
Despite the spending deficit, Hier said the school district is expecting $70,875 back in revenues, mostly in reimbursements by the state for special education costs. But even with the reimbursement it would still leave the school district with a net deficit of $79,799.
Hier said there are other avenues the district will consider to deal with the deficit and they will wait and see what will work best by Town Meeting Day.
“It’s still early in the year and anything can happen,” Hier said. “This month we’ll reconcile what we budgeted for health insurance toward the people we hired including support staff salaries and enrollment in the Gateway program and occupation development programs and see where they are. We spent over $3 million in health insurance and maybe there could be savings in that area as well.”
The School Board did not make a decision on how to address the remaining money. The district’s finances will be discussed in further detail at the next School Board meeting.