Board OKs Special Education Stabilization policy
By Robert Fucci
If there’s one uncertainty Sutton Public Schools deals with almost annually, it’s not knowing if new special education students will be added after the school year starts.
According to Town Administrator Jim Smith, a late addition like this could cost the School Department $150,000 or more.
To help prepare for such scenarios, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a Special Education Stabilization policy during its June 27 meeting.
An article during Spring Town Meeting in 2016 was passed proposing this fund. Smith said questions that arose included what if the town needed to spend the money down, how would it be replenished?
The policy is as follows:
Each year at Fall Town Meeting, Sutton will appropriate the previous fiscal year’s net investment earnings in excess of $10,000 of the General Stabilization Fund. Such amount will be determined by the town accountant and agreed to by the town treasurer.
The fund will be overseen by the school superintendent and the town administrator, who collectively will sponsor town meeting articles, as needed, to transfer money back into the school budget.
Money transferred out of the fund will be replenished the following year with free cash, as deemed available by the town administrator, or any other available fund, as identified by the town accountant.
The goal will be to maintain a minimum level of $200,000 in the fund with a maximum of $350,000.
Smith said this solution came up during a meeting with MASS DOR and during a meeting with Selectman David Hall and Jeff Bannon of the Finance and Warrant Advisory Committee.
“That’s very good sound management from the financial team,” Vice Chair John Hebert said. “In the long run, this helps our bond rating and our auditors. Here’s Sutton again thinking out of the box.”
Selectman Ray Plante, Jr., also praised the efforts.
“Having a child with in the school system with special needs, you wonder where money comes from,” he said. “It’s good to know Sutton is ahead of the game. I’m on board. I’ve seen the result of what this funding can do.”