Time to establish a School “Improvement” Stabilization Fund

M.G.L. Ch. 40 Sec. 5B

Section 5B: Stabilization funds; establishment

Section 5B. Cities, towns and districts may create 1 or more stabilization funds and appropriate any amount into the funds. Any interest shall be added to and become part of the fund…..

Notwithstanding section 53 of chapter 44 or any other general or special law to the contrary, a city, town or district that accepts this paragraph may dedicate, without further appropriation, all, or a percentage not less than 25 per cent, of a particular fee, charge or other receipt to any stabilization fund established pursuant to this section; provided, however, that the receipt is not reserved by law for expenditure for a particular purpose. For purposes of this paragraph, a receipt shall not include taxes or excises assessed pursuant to chapter 59, 60A, 60B, 61, 61A or 61B or surcharges assessed pursuant to section 39M or chapter 44B

Town Officials Guide

Towns may establish one or more stabilization
funds (M.G.L. Ch. 40 Sec. 5B) for different purposes. A stabilization fund is a special reserve fund into which monies may be appropriated and reserved for later appropriation for any lawful municipal purpose.

Monies accumulated in a stabilization fund carry forward from one fiscal year to another.

One of the constant issues we hear about is the lack of school maintenance. Finding money is always a challenge.

I think it is time we look into forming a School”Improvement” Stabilization Fund.

The City Manager can take $100,000 of “Free Cash” each year and place it in this account. Another way to get some funds would be to have any “free cash” at year’s end in the School Department transferred prior to July 1st into that account , you could also take 25% of the money charged to people who rent the gym’s and schools and assign that dollar figure to this account.

While I understand that School Maintenance falls on “the city” , the Law states that any Free Cash at year’s end from a School District that has met or exceeded its Net School spending requirements is supposed to go back to the general fund. There is usually somewhere in excess of $50,000 at year’s end (sometime much more).

There has in the past, so it appeared to me , the mentality to NOT “turn anything back” to the City from the school side. We as a “new” School Committee have to try and change that thinking. By putting “free cash” into this account we are helping BOTH out students/staff and the city.

By establishing this account along with the portion of fee’s from rentals the city and the schools would benefit from having available funds to properly maintain the schools or at least to start to do that.

Each year based on the needs assessment done by the joint City Council and School Committee subcommittees on facilities they could identify what schools have the biggest need and begin to address them.

If the City and/or State budget’s get “better” and more funding becomes available the City can increase the amount they dedicate annually to be assisted by any “free cash” at year-end by the School Dept.

If we don’t do something to change the way we maintain schools, than nothing will change. At least this way we begin a process to hopefully find a way to properly take care of the need of our school buildings.

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