School budget under ‘soft’ budget freeze

TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

During the Monday, Dec. 10 Board of Education meeting, the director of business and operations announced that Plainville Community Schools will be implementing a soft budget freeze.

Sam Adlerstein said this would entail putting “a little extra scrutiny behind purchase orders as they come in, purchase orders that are already open, and likely, we’ll postpone some spending.”

He explained this is due to overage costs in some areas of the budget.

“Our special education department has done an excellent job of keeping students in district, but because of that we’ve had higher than budgeted paraprofessional costs,” said Adlerstein. “We had a budget freeze last year, and that caused us to postpone some maintenance costs that now we’re trying to catch up this year. With all that, we looked at it and we believe that the prudent thing to do is to put some extra scrutiny behind our spending from now until the end of the year.”

Adlerstein explained that the school year 2017/2018 budget freeze was caused by a reduction in Education Cost Sharing [ECS] Grant funds, as “our school district is largely funded by the state.”

“Up until 2016, our ECS Grant went up almost every year for decades,” said Adlerstein. “And then, in 2016, we saw a different trend — we saw reductions in the ECS Grant, and from 2016 to 2018, we went from $10.4 million of funding from the state to $8.9 million of funding, so reduction of $1.5 million.”

Should the “state stick to what they say,” the district looks “to see a $260,000 ECS Grant increase, year in year out, for the next 10 years,” said Adlerstein.

PCS will host three budget workshops in January, and hopes to vote on their budget during the Monday, Feb. 11 BOE meeting. From there, the budget would be sent to the Town Council, and should it be approved by the council, it would then be ready for the all day budget vote, set to take place in April. The all day budget vote would be held at the Plainville Firehouse, 77 West Main St.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.