Mascenic School District

Half of $800K surplus returning to taxpayers

NEW IPSWICH — The Mascenic School Board will be spending $146,000 of its anticipated $800,000 surplus on district improvements. The district is also planning to set aside at least 1.25 percent of the fiscal value of the 2012-2013 school year, about $82,000, for emergencies. Even after the district spends $85,000 from the unexpended fund balance on various warrant article items approved at the March polls, the district will still be returning at least $400,000 to taxpayers this year.

The School Board voted Monday to make use of $146,000 from this year’s unanticipated fund balance to update safety procedures, improve Wi-Fi coverage at all three schools, and replace or add carpeting and furniture, among other things. But those hoping for some updates to the Macenic Regional High School soccer field will have to wait another year, after the board voted not to include a proposed $54,100 for work to level the field in this year’s expenditures.

Per state law, the district can set aside up to 2.5 percent of the year’s fiscal value, which is $164,000 this year, for unanticipated emergency expenses. What constitutes an emergency is determined by the State Department of Education, and can encompass anything from a roof failure to an unanticipated influx of students. At the end of the year, money not expended is to be returned to the taxpayers.

A committee of School Board members and school administrators identified a list of items that could be addressed with money from the fund balance. Among the high-priority items are updating the police repeater at Mascenic High School, re-keying all of the schools, repairing a sewer pipe at Boynton Middle School, and increasing Wi-Fi coverage at Boynton.

School Board member Jim Kingston noted at Monday’s board meeting that the majority of the items had to do with student safety, and he didn’t have any problem accepting all of the proposals for that portion of the list. The board voted unanimously to expend up to $91,000 on the high-priority items, as well as Wi-Fi updates at the other two schools. The board also approved $22,725 for some new furniture for the schools: Sewing tables for Mascenic, cafeteria tables for Boynton and filing cabinets. As an alternative to purchasing new filing cabinets, he board also stipulated that money can be used to convert the filing system to a digital system. Facilities upgrades for the high school, including a $15,000 upgrade to the auditorium, also got the OK.

Kingston noted he would prefer to see a more comprehensive plan for the field and recreation departments drawn up and presented to voters as a warrant article next March. Ultimately, the board agreed with Kingston, and voted to have Mascenic Maintenance Director Gary Somero draw up a plan.

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