Amity School Supt. Dr. Jennifer Byars had the following comments regarding the surplus at the end of the 2020 school year, “Many school districts (if not most) had significant surpluses at the end of the school year last year because we were closed for a quarter of the school year and many programs were not operating,” she wrote.
It should also be noted that the District returned close to $2 million to the member towns, as follows:
- Bethany $ 358,085;
- Orange $ 992,321;
- Woodbridge $ 600,371;
- Total $1,950,777
The Amity Finance Committee and Board of Education approved the transfer of $495,482 (1%) of the FY20 budget surplus into the Capital and Non-recurring account. “School districts are permitted to maintain a capital non-recurring account for larger projects and statutorily, regional school districts may designate funds remaining at the end of the school year to that account to pay for capital improvements,” Dr. Byars wrote. “This helps taxpayers because those improvements can be paid for without the need to take out bonds and pay interest.”
Regional school districts are permitted to put no more than 1% of the unspent funds into the capital non-recurring account.
According to a memo from Amity Finance Director Theresa Lumas, end-of-year purchases (EOY) of $515,077 included the following:
Self-Insurance Fund ($229,311) – The suspension of routine exams, diagnostic tests, dental appointments, and non-emergency surgeries reduced the medical claims for the final quarter of FY20. It is anticipated that once the State reopens the missed procedures will be scheduled, as well as those of age and need for the current year, and in a worst-case scenario claims could rise due to COVID-19 treatments as the District reopens.
By raising the medical insurance fund, the district increases its reserve from a 25% threshold of claims to 30% on a temporary basis for one year. If funds are not needed, the reserve will be reduced back to 25% and the funds will be utilized to offset the budget request for fiscal year 2021-22.
Preparing for virus protection – The district purchased personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields to prepare for reopening schools in the fall of 2020, recognizing none of these items were anticipated in developing the FY21 budget. Thermal security cameras were purchased to register temperatures and perform a mask check of staff and students arriving at main entrances of all three schools.
Laptops for high school teachers were purchased to prepare for remote instruction upon reopening.
Cafeteria ($100,000) – The District’s fund to support the school lunch program has been running a deficit for three straight years. The ongoing repair and maintenance of aging equipment contributed to the deficit and the State’s change in eligibility status determination increased free and reduced lunch status. Next year appears to be even more challenging in the COVID-19 environment as we will have to change how service is provided, food is served, and food packaging.