BURLINGTON, MA – Burlington Public Schools exceeded their budget by $ 1.7 million, or about 3.3%, in 2017-18. The school department will ask the municipal assembly for funding to cover the deficit. About $ 600,000 was for transportation costs for special education, while another $ 200,000 was for a tutoring allowance. The district also exceeded its budget for substitute teachers by $ 220,000 and incurred higher than expected maintenance expenses.
Superintendent Eric Conti revealed the overspending at Tuesday night’s school committee meeting. Conti attributed the problem to the increased costs of transporting special education, which in previous years had been covered by operating funds. But over time, the deficit has widened and this option is no longer possible.
“Nobody likes to go to a town meeting to ask for money,” Conti said. “It’s a problem, I don’t mean to say it isn’t, but I think it happened because of the significant increase in special education costs that we tried to cover. in many ways, and I think it’s just caught up with us over time. “
Conti also said the district had 35 maternity and paternity leaves this year, up from the usual number in their 20s. He said allowances are usually paid in the last pay period of the fiscal year explaining why the disclosure of excess expenses occurs after fiscal year end.
School committee members Thomas Murphy and Stephen Nelson suggested that Conti work on developing periodic reports so that the school committee can receive early alerts when the district is likely to go over budget. “Going forward, we need to keep a better grip month over month… so that we can avoid falling out like we do here,” Murphy said.
The revelation comes after a year in which the school department was examined for financial mismanagement and less than a month after the school committee gave Conti rave reviews in its annual performance reviews.
“I think he is the best superintendent we have ever had and I look forward to continuing to work with him,” school committee member Christine Monaco said at the June 26 board meeting. . At the same meeting, school committee member Nelson said members were urged not to give exemplary grades, but felt Conti was as exemplary as the district could hope for.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, however, Monaco suggested the committee had been blinded by the overspending.
“I’ve been on the school committee for several years and this is the first time something like this has happened before me, so I was surprised,” Monaco said.