New Milford schools expecting less state money for special ed
NEW MILFORD — The schools expect to get about $200,000 less in state reimbursements for special education this year, adding to the $2.2 million budget gap the town and schools already are struggling to close.
Superintendent of Schools Joshua Smith said the $200,000 is a conservative estimate based on what the state has sent so far this year.
“We’re planning for that, but hoping for more,” he said.
The state reimburses school districts a percentage of costs incurred for a special-education student, over a certain threshold. Districts submit their costs to the state in January, and the reimbursements are made based on factors including what other districts request and how much money the state has budgeted for the purpose.
The first reimbursement payment is sent to districts in February, usually accounting for 70 to 75 percent of the annual total, with the last payment coming in mid-to-late May.
New Milford received about $377,000 in reimbursements in February, which leads school officials to expect a total of about $516,000 against just over $1 million in qualified expenses. Officials budgeted for a $716,000 reimbursement, leaving the estimated $200,000 difference.
Last year, New Milford budgeted for $1.05 million in reimbursements against $1.5 million in special education qualified expenses, but received only $779,000 from the state.
Other districts are also getting smaller reimbursements than expected. Ridgefield expects about $200,000 less from the state than budgeted.
New Milford school and town officials are still working to close the $2.2 million funding gap for this fiscal year.
Earlier this year, the town and schools approved using $1.5 million of last year’s surplus to cover the shortfall. Mayor Pete Bass laid off five employees last month to help, but the assistant parks and recreation director was hired back after other department savings and revenue sources were found.
Smith also announced that several school staff vacancies will not be filled this year.