The Silver Lake Regional School Committee held their close-out meeting Thursday, July 11. It was a brief meeting with fewer attendees than usual. Vice Chair Eric Crone took the meeting in Chairman Jason Fraser’s absence.
The first order of business was the appointment of a new treasurer for the district. The school committee agreed to add a treasurer last year after years of being asked to do so by auditors. The position was added to the budget at that time with a small stipend of 6-10 hours per month allotted.
Superintendent Joy Blackwood said that after speaking with Director of Business Services Christine Healy, it was decided that they would not renew the current treasurer’s one-year contract. The main duties of the treasurer are to transfer out funds and reconcile balances.
Former Silver Lake Business Manager and Superintendent John Tuffy applied and attended the meeting. Tuffy spent six years as the Silver Lake business manager and another eight as superintendent before retiring in 2015. From 2016-2018, Tuffy acted as an interim business manager for Cohasset.
Blackwood said, “Someone who we all know and love applied for the position. I think it is a perfect situation where it is one of the few times where I can say it is an absolute win-win. He knows our system inside and out and he’s absolutely trustworthy and I’m thrilled that he decided to apply.” Crone entertained a motion to appoint Tuffy as the new treasurer and it was passed unanimously. Crone addressed Tuffy and joked, “Welcome and thank you; you can never get away.”
Healy gave the committee an update on the budget. Regarding the operating budget, Healy said that a balance of $128,679.21 will eventually flow back to the excess and deficiency account. Healy addressed the areas where they had some “bumps in the road” including deficits for both substitutes and homeless transportation.
Another area that had a tough year was contract services including maintenance and buildings and maintenance and grounds. The expenses included the installation of new hot water tanks at the high school as well as improvements to the systems at the middle school that resulted in reduced humidity particularly during the hottest months of June, August, and September.
Regarding the work done at the middle school Healy said, “We got a call from the principal today saying it is amazing what it has done and actually some of the custodians have noticed when they’re working at night that it’s not nearly as humid and overwhelming as it has been.”
Any areas of deficit, however, will be made up for by areas of surplus. One of the largest areas of surplus is health insurance. Healy also gave an update on the revenue side of the budget. The revenues, which are made up of several things including Chapter 70 money, regional transportation money, shared costs, etc., will exceed the budget by $301,000. Regional transportation exceeded expectations by $123,000 and the district received the final payment on July 2. Another area that exceeded expectations was the net media agreement where the district received $114,000 in excess of what was budgeted. Other smaller, unbudgeted sources of revenue including interest totaled $113,000 that is then added to the increases and then that is added to what is not being spent in the budget.
Healy said, “If we look at all of that totally, we’ll be returning approximately $543,000 to our E & D account. That is if nothing changes as of right now.” School Committee member Leslie-Ann McGee made a motion to recommend that $128,679.21 be returned to the Silver Lake Regional School District revenue account. The motion was passed unanimously.
The committee briefly discussed the new calendar survey committee that would convene to discuss whether or not to survey constituents regarding changes to the school calendar. They also discussed the school start times committee whose purpose will be to do more research into what the state and others are doing regarding earlier start times. The issue is a hot button one as it affects clubs, sports, after school jobs, buses, family schedules etc.
School Committee member Paula Hatch gave an update on the Safety, Facilities, Fees and Revenue subcommittee meeting that took place just prior to the school committee meeting. Hatch said that the bids for the work that needs to be done on the roofs are due by July 18. The hope is to have substantial work completed on the repairs by October 1. The subcommittee also discussed how to better house warranty information going forward as it is not all currently stored in one easily accessible location. The new plan will be to scan documents and place them in Google Docs where everyone from the business manager to the custodians can access it.
Work will begin shortly to grade and seed the grass on the football practice field in order to improve the lawn and enable it to be used again.
Sandblasting and painting of the water filtration plant is also underway as it was recommended that it be done sooner rather than later to avoid further erosion.
Some important dates were also discussed prior to the adjournment of the meeting including new teacher orientation on August 23, the first day of school on August 28, and the next school committee meeting on September 12.