Ridgefield schools will return $50,000 to town

Stephen Coulter / Hearst

The Ridgefield Board of Education ended the school year in June with $50,535 left over from the $95-million budget voters approved for the 2018-19 school year.

“You could say we’re giving that back to the town — ultimately the town has the money, we don’t necessarily give it back,” said Business Manager Dawn Norton. “...We’re allotted up to that $95 million for them to transfer to us.”

Norton said the figure returned to the town could increase slightly as the school facilities crews wrap up projects for students’ return to school.

As the projects are completed, “that number could increase slightly, or if some projects come in under-budget,” said Norton.

Board member Jim Keidel also brought up the possibility of creating a carryover fund that would allow the schools to hold some of the money back at the end of the year.

The town’s charter revision commission unanimously rejected the idea last year when the board proposed it.

But in March, then-superintendent William Collins argued the fund is still available to the schools because “State law trumps town charter.”

Board members said the fund could have been used to pay for repairs to school facilities.

“I think it became very clear at the end of the year that there were many things we were underfunding,” said board member Sharon D’Orso.

“We could have done another bathroom,” said Secretary Kathleen Holz.

“Or all of them, said Keidel.”

Norton said the schools ran over-budget in faculty and staff salaries, and in transportation costs for students traveling out of district, which went over budget by $13,675. She said both overages were covered by transferring funds from other accounts.