|By Kaitlin Mulhere, The Keene Sentinel, N.H.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
But that's better than the worst-case scenario administrators forecast last fall, when they said the department could overspend its budget by as much as
The district has scheduled a public hearing on the issue at the beginning of its meeting Tuesday, which is required when using unspent revenue from the current budget to cover a spending deficit.
The district is anticipating a surplus of nearly
That figure could still shift before the end of the year, though, as there are still 52 days left until the district closes out its fiscal year
Harper said it's the first time in more than 20 years that he can remember needing to hold a public hearing to transfer money to cover expenses, and that the district is lucky to have the revenue available.
Of the unexpected revenue,
If there wasn't money from the revenue side of the budget, the district would have needed to put an article on the warrant in March to raise additional tax money to cover the deficit, Harper said. That's never been done in
The special education costs skyrocketed in the fall after the district needed to send additional students to out-of-district placements. Students are sent to schools outside the district when they need more extensive or specialized services than the district can provide. The district is partially reimbursed by the state for the most expensive cases, those that are 3.5 times the state average cost per pupil.
The placements the
Out-of-district costs can be difficult to predict because placements vary from year to year. After developing the 2013-14 budget in fall 2012, there were 12 additional placements during the 2012-13 school year and three during this school year.
Woods said based on today's student population and the expectation that some students who are out of district this year will probably return next year, she thinks next year's special education budget, which was put together last fall, is in good shape.
"But it's early May, and next year is next year," she said at the meeting Tuesday.
In previous years, special education has been a source of surplus for the district, Harper said. But as budgets have grown tighter in recent years, there has been little money left in the budgets as a contingency for unexpected costs.
As a result, board members at Tuesday's meeting briefly discussed the advantages of establishing a special education fund, much like a capital reserve fund for building repairs, in which the district could set aside money to cover unexpected special education costs in the future.