By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — School Finance Director Tom Geary gave a fiscal year 2015 budget update to the School Committee recently.
The school department’s budget for FY’15 is $20,938,552, representing a 3.45 percent increase from FY’14’s budget of $20.2 million. He believes the school department is in a good financial position with spring just around the corner.
“I feel comfortable with where we are at this point,” said Geary.
Geary said the school department’s capital budget for technology expenses is $250,000. He also said $51,000 was also included in the capital budget to retrofit classrooms at Lynnfield Middle School.
The finance director said the school department is “exceeding targets” in kindergarten tuition, preschool and activity fee revenue.
The school department pre–paid almost $160,000 in special education out-of-district tuition at the beginning of the school year. Geary said special education transportation expenses are currently “under budget.”
“It’s a nice savings because it was not expected,” said Geary.
Additionally, Geary said the state’s special education circuit breaker program was funded at 72 percent. However, Geary said there is a “modest” special education tuition overage of $30,000.
“Considering the special education area, that is not bad at all at this point in the year,” said Geary.
Geary said the school department’s unemployment expenses are currently $10,000 under budget. He said there is currently a $20,000 overage in salary savings but he believes the overage will be temporary.
“That overage will likely go away,” said Geary. “It usually does.”
According to Geary, the special education entitlement grant is $461,336, which is $12,000 more than what was budgeted.
Geary said the Title 1 grant was cut by $45,000 this year but said school officials were able to carry over $16,000 from last year’s Title 1 grant. The Title 1 grant provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.
The Title 1 grant funds tutoring positions at Huckleberry Hill School. In all likelihood, Geary said the school department will not be able to carry over any Title 1 funds to FY’16.
Geary said the $3,700 MCAS grant was completely eliminated. He said the school department was able to absorb the loss of the grant and is still providing tutoring services to local students who struggled on the MCAS exam.
The finance director said there is between a $30,000-$40,000 overage in high school athletic transportation expenses. He attributed the overage to “outsourcing” bus drivers.
“We have fewer in-house drivers at this point,” said Geary. “While it is great and overall it does help the town because we have to pay less benefits and hire less drivers, the rate we pay for an external company is higher than what we would pay for an internally hired bus driver.”