School district wants to save unspent funds

During its Dec. 6 meeting, the Wilton Board of Education discussed the idea of establishing an unexpended funds account.

In 2010, the Connecticut General Assembly adopted Public Act No. 10-108, which enables school boards to transfer unexpended funds into a non-lapsing account that boards can then use in subsequent fiscal years.

According to the law, unexpended education funds from a prior fiscal year may be deposited into the account, as long as the amount doesn’t exceed 1% of the total budgeted appropriation for that prior fiscal year.

Superintendent Kevin Smith said although the Board of Finance would need to approve the establishment of the account, it would be a Board of Education-controlled account.

If the Wilton Board of Education established such an account, it would have oversight and control, but would need to report to the Board of Finance each year if funds from the account were expended.

“Boards of education don’t have contingency accounts, so this is an opportunity to, I think, just kind of motivate some good budget performance ... and to better equip us to deal with extraordinary needs,” said Smith.

Smith said the account would be useful in the event of “an unanticipated overage in special education” or an unanticipated “extraordinary educational need.”

“We’d have an opportunity to go to an account rather than go back to the Board of Finance or move funds within an existing budget to meet the need,” he said.

According to a memo prepared for the school board by Chief Financial Officer Anne Kelly-Lenz, the board could “outline specific purposes to limit the use of funds to items,” such as for a contingency to fund unanticipated non-recurring capital needs, a contingency for other arising emergency needs, or a contingency for unforeseen special education expenditures.

Board member Glenn Hemmerle said the Board of Education’s Business Operations Subcommittee recently discussed the idea, and the Board of Finance liaisons “did not seem opposed to it.”

Smith said he would like the school board to vote on the establishment of an unexpended funds account at its next meeting on Thursday, Dec. 20.