BOE receives $210,000 from RTM to fund deficit
The Representative Town Meeting gave the green light to approve a special appropriation to cover the current Board of Education deficit.
The deficit, which was projected to be $475,000 in a worst case scenario, was a result of increased pressure from special education costs. The Board of Finance previously approved an appropriation of $265,000 from a special-education reserve fund that was established for such an event. The remaining $210,000 would then be allocated from the general fund.
Finance and Budget Committee Chairman Bruce Orr said his committee approved the allocation because they realized the primary driver of the deficit was special education and the BOE has little control over those costs.
"We reviewed this deficit in detail and we noticed there were some offsets in other areas," Orr said. "We unanimously approve this measure."
BOF Chairman Liz Mao said since meeting about the deficit the town received an adjustment from the state of $263,000. However, the money could not be used to cover the current deficit, Mao said.
BOE Chairman Kim Westcott said as of May 1, the schools had surpassed their special education budget by $1 million. The BOE originally budgeted $13 million for special education for this year but because more special needs students moved into the town, the budget was quickly overwhelmed.
District I RTM member Peter Kelly asked if Darien was handling special education differently than neighboring towns.
Superintendent of Schools Stephen Falcone said Darien's special education costs are not that much different than other towns and Darien actually spends less per student than other towns.
Once the issue went to a vote, the RTM unanimously approved the $210,000 special appropriation.