NORTH READING — The School Committee has been forced to allocate $14,030 recently to purchase athletic equipment that was supposed to be funded by the Athletic Boosters.

North Reading Athletic Boosters President John Norton was arrested and charged with larceny in October. The police department arrested Norton, 68, after an investigation revealed he allegedly stole more than $10,000 from the organization meant to help local sports teams.

Police allege that Norton, a long–time North Reading resident and former town official, solicited donations from residents and businesses on behalf of the Boosters Club and pocketed the proceeds for himself. The school department severed ties with the Athletic Boosters in August.

According to Superintendent of Schools Jon Bernard, the high school’s athletic department and other school personnel purchased athletic equipment such as uniforms, golf bags and varsity letters, which were supposed to be purchased by the Athletic Boosters.

“As the investigation into the Athletic Boosters has played out over the last few months, we learned unfortunately that the money is unavailable to fulfill these financial obligations,” said Bernard. “It is my recommendation that because these were purchases made by the school department through personnel that the school department fulfill its financial obligations.”

Bernard also said funds are also needed to fund scholarships that were sponsored by the booster organization.

School Committee Chairman Jerry Venezia said the athletic equipment purchases would be funded through the athletic department’s revolving account.

Duane Drive resident Marci Bailey said, “$14,000 is a lot of money” and asked if the athletic department’s revolving account would be depleted in order to purchase the equipment.

Finance Director Michael Connelly said the school department had a “smooth closeout” at the end of fiscal year 2014, which enabled the school department to carry over surplus funds into FY’15. He doesn’t anticipate the additional expense would have a negative impact on the school department’s budget.

School Committee member Mel Webster concurred with Connelly’s sentiment.

“Our goal is to always have money in the revolving account to cover things,” said Webster.

Bailey said it’s “unfortunate” school officials are “stuck between a rock and a hard place.” She also asked if all of the items that have been purchased are needed and whether or not the school department would be neglecting other areas in order to purchase the athletic equipment.

Venezia acknowledged some of the items that were purchased “were not at the top of our priority list,” but said the school department agreed to receive the items before school officials realized they would be on the hook for purchasing the equipment.

Webster agreed.

“Since all of these items have been delivered to the school and we have taken ownership of them, we have to pay for them,” said Webster.

Venezia said the Athletic Boosters made other purchases such as sports awards trophies that the school department will not be required to purchase.