The Lowell School Committee has very little choice but to approve the transfers at tonight’s meeting dealing with the 2015/2016 Fiscal year.
The vote the Supt. is seeking is to correct multiple year end negative accounts and fix the transfers from June and while it isn’t ideal nor is it anywhere close to “Best Practice” it is better to get a slap on the wrist for making late corrections than to possibly have to reimburse the Food Service Account mid-year.
City, State and Municipal officials I have spoken with explained that if they did not approve the transfers, the city would be on the hook for the stupid, illogical (and in all likelihood borderline illegal) transfers that the Supt.’s brought forward in June.
At that time without making it clear to the School Committee (who weren’t smart enough to ask for a complete breakdown, instead “trusting” the Supt. and CFO) the Supt. tried to “expense” a very large portion of his total salary ($80K) to Food Services (many wonder if FEDS / State will even allow the $5,500 he is reducing it to) along with HUGE portions of the CFO’s and the Human Resources Director’s salaries (their’s were almost 40% ) and are being drastically reduced at tonight’s meeting.
Two separate Officials suggested strongly to me that The School Committee and/or the Finance Sub Committee should demand and work out a definitive time table with the CFO to close the books BEFORE the required June 30th date and to suggest “freezing” purchases effective June 1 so that the School Committee gets the opportunity to see what “free Cash” is really left and to talk with the City on keeping all or at least a large percent of that money.
Both pointed out the following in the newly signed Act modernizing municipal finance and government and how Lowell could use some of this “Free Cash” on this because of the unpredictable nature of Special Education.
Section 13E. Any school district which accepts this section, by a majority vote of the school committee and a majority vote of the legislative body or, in the case of a regional school district by a majority vote of the legislative bodies in a majority of the member communities of the district, may establish and appropriate or transfer money to a reserve fund to be utilized in the upcoming fiscal years, to pay, without further appropriation, for unanticipated or unbudgeted costs of special education, out-of-district tuition or transportation. The balance in such reserve fund shall not exceed 2 per cent of the annual net school spending of the school district. Funds shall only be distributed from the reserve funds after a majority vote of the school committee and a majority vote of the board of selectman or city council, or, in the case of a regional school district by a majority vote of the board of selectmen or city council in a majority of the member communities of the district
Hopefully the Committee is bright and knowledgable enough to chastise BOTH the CFO and Supt. for the ragtag, unprofessional, amateurish and sneaky way they handled closing the fiscal year and handling of the “free Cash” taking away any significant contributions, suggestions or directive opportunities from the School Committee.
The CFO and Supt. have made this district and this committee look inept and if the committee allows this than many of them should be voted out next year. They were elected to lead not to be lambs led to slaughter and made to look foolish by the CFO and Supt.