Less than three months into its fiscal years, the city’s school system is facing an $830,000 deficit.
But school leaders said they hope to end the year in the black through cost-saving steps that managed last year to turn a similar shortfall into a surplus of almost $800,000.
“We’re going to do our best,” Superintendent Philip Streifer said.
The school system spends more than $100 million to operate, mostly for teacher salaries, but two other elements are driving the deficit.
Streifer said that the schools anticipate a $658,000 additional charge for energy beyond what they planned for in the budget approved in May.
They are also eyeing a $604,000 deficit in the special education account, driven by 19 students they didn’t know about at the start of the year.
Streifer said that 15 of the students were placed by the state Department of Children and Families, all of them from Bristol. They’ll cost an additional $802,000, he said.
Four other students moved into the city. Educating them will sock taxpayers for $406,000, official estimate.
Since the state pays a hefty share of the extra tab, the city needs to come up with about $604,000 in extra spending to educate the 19 children, Streifer said.
Streifer said that the special education situation is “not nearly as bad” as the one the schools had to address last year.
Moreover, he said, school officials have new controls in place “to try to keep that number from growing.”
School officials have to provide the necessary education for special education students, some of whom are severely impaired. It can cost as much as $280,000 a year to educate a single special needs, Streifer said, though most require much less.
Prodded by Board of Finance members to explain how an integration lawsuit in Hartford contributes to the budget, Streifer said the city spends about $40,000 for magnet school tuition for students who want to leave the district.
Streifer said that state officials want them to push the program more, but his policy is not to dissuade students from going “but we’re not going to go out of our way either” to promote it.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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