Until ECS allocation sorted out, status of New London's school budget still pending

New London - The Board of Education's Finance Committee tabled a discussion Tuesday on the status of the 2012-13 budget pending a City Council meeting to remove $809,000 in state funds that the council accidentally allocated to the approved school budget.

Finance Committee members Barbara Major and Liz Garcia Gonzalez voted to table the discussion. Committee Chairman and Board of Education Chairman William Morse voted against the motion.

The $809,000 in state Education Cost Sharing funds was mistakenly added to the bottom line of the $40,626,406 school budget the City Council approved. After the removal of the ECS funds, the district is left with a budget of $39.8 million, the fifth flat-funded budget issued to the school district by the city.

The ECS money is still available to the school district, but it cannot be allocated as part of the district's 2012-13 budget because it comes to the city from the state and is kept as a separate municipal account for school use.

If the council allows the money to remain part of the school board's approved budget, the city is not legally allowed under the state's Minimum Budget Requirements to approve less than the school board's $40.6 million budget in 2013-14.

The Finance Committee met to discuss the status of the 2012-13 budget, but committee member Barbara Major asked to table the discussion because she did not feel comfortable discussing the budget until it is clear whether the district can use the ECS funds to restore the positions of the more than 60 staff in the district who were issued layoff notices. The district has lost 100 staff members due to budgetary constraints since 2001.

The City Council Finance Committee is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. on Monday to discuss the ECS funds.

j.hanckel@theday.com

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