School Committee Holds Off On Asking For Budget Compromise Money…For Now

Haverhill School Committee member Gail M. Sullivan. (WHAV News file photograph)

School Committee member Gail M. Sullivan. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill School Committee members Thursday night resisted the temptation to draw down a special pool of money set aside in June upon worries of a possible shortfall by the end of the school year.

Members tallied about $500,000 in deficits spread among various spending accounts. School Committee member Gail M. Sullivan expressed concern.

“When one looks at a budget in August and we haven’t even started school yet, it is surprising to see hundreds of thousands of dollars of deficits,” Sullivan told her colleagues.

However, school Business Manager Brian O’Connell said accounts will generally balance as the school year commences. “We will still be able to fund all of the positions and expenditures that the School Committee voted within the confines of the current budget.”

O’Connell explained, for example, the city just received $120,000 more in state special education “circuit breaker” money than was originally expected. He said about $3 million in other offsets will come in during the year.

Nevertheless, Sullivan made sure her colleagues remembered extra money was set aside for schools during June’s last-minute budget compromise at a City Council meeting.

“The mayor agreed to $150,000 and (Councilor) Melinda Barrett added $50,000. That’s $200,000,” she said.

O’Connell said the extra money remains available. “That fund is actually available at this point—under the mayor’s custody, but a commitment that it will be released to the schools upon a formal request for it.”

Mayor James J. Fiorentini was not present at the meeting.

School Committee Vice Chairman Paul A. Magliocchetti said the school department will eventually take the extra money. “I think we just kind of keep an eye on it and see when the need arises to trigger that money coming back to the schools.”