After all is said and done, year-end encumbrances were realized, supplies paid for, building repairs made, buses purchased, contractual services paid for and adjustments made, the Montville Board of Education is returning $14, 844.73 to the town.
Superintendent Pamela Aubin told the Board Tuesday that the Town Council’s edict last week “requiring” monthly detailed spending reports is problematic because those reports “contain identifying information” on special education, the release of which may not be allowed.
But she also said money appropriated for schools is to be used at the discretion of the board, under state law. Adding that the reports that the schools are currently providing are detailed enough and in any event, the town cannot mandate such reports.
At the Council meeting last Monday, the entire council, save for Republican Dana McFee, called for a more detailed accounting on the heels of the year-end spending of $2.9 million by the BOE for myriad items including the purchase of Smart Boards for all classrooms at a cost of around $250,000.
Town Finance Director Terry Hart said the report the district forwards each month “is not useful if you’re looking to see exactly what the spending is. This report, you’re not going to get that.”
Tuesday, schools business manager Kathy Lamoureux handed Montville Patch a 41-page, double-sided report that lists all the spending for the month of June. It is broken down by department and then description. For example, Palmer Academy, textbooks and workbooks for a cost of $2,534.
“That’s great for balancing a checkbook, but no detail,” Hart complained.
And Councilor Gary Murphy, who got the ball rolling when he said last month that he was told the $3 million went to summer teacher salaries. A few weeks later, after reading Murphy was angry and said so at a Finance Committee meeting where he and fellow members Town Councilor Rosetta Jones and Town Council Chair Candy Buebendorf shared their frustration with the BOE. At that meeting, Buebendorf
At last week’s council meeting Murphy recapped his frustration.
“I love to go to the BOE, they’re civil, informative,” he said last week. “But on this single issue, on this $3 million, I have received more emails on this $3 million than in anything in my 6 years on this council.” He said the relationship between the council and the BOE has become “strained.”
But BOE chair David Rowley, addressing the Council, described the group as “about as apolitical an organization that you’ll find.”
“We’ve not had a party line vote in my 14 years.” He told the council that June spending, at roughly $3 million is in keeping with what is spent virtually every month.
When one looks at the budget, he said, one sees “that’s the average.”
And Tuesday night, the BOE was on board with Aubin.