AP NEWS

Lowell School Leaders Chipping Away at $2.48M Deficit

November 8, 2018

LOWELL -- A plan pitched during Wednesday’s School Committee meeting suggested adjustments to eliminate more than half of the Lowell Public School budget’s roughly $2.48 million deficit.

Assistant Superintendent Billie Jo Turner went over a line item budget with the committee, showing changes that would eliminate roughly $1.39 million from the budget gap.

Of the 20 items reviewed by Turner on Wednesday, 10 items include potential savings by not filling positions for the 2018-19 school year.

Those positions would include the human resource director, who retired in October, Turner said. The duties of the director would be redistributed, saving roughly $73,000 in the budget.

“The HR director is very necessary, but the HR Department will report to me and I will take on the additional duties until the money is identified,” Turner said.

One of the major saving options includes restructuring the tutor schedule, leading to a savings of $293,000 for the 2018-19 school year. The number of tutors would not be impacted, Turner stressed.

Another item pitched includes decreasing equipment replacement funding from $125,000 to $75,000.

The committee will review the suggested budget adjustments. A vote on the changes is expected to take place during a future meeting.

The potential $1.39 million cut to the budget leaves more than $1 million that still needs to be addressed.

Turner stressed there were no positions eliminated in Wednesday’s suggested budget adjustments. She added that doesn’t mean there won’t be any cuts when addressing the remaining deficit.

“We are working hard, talking to the unions, talking to vendors, trying to identify how to make cuts without impacting core operations,” Turner said.

“The items that we listed here,” she added, pointing to the line item budget, “we were able to find a temporary alternative plan. Of course it’s not ideal, but we can handle this. The other stuff, we can’t put it out there until we make sure we have alternatives.”

The budget deficit was created due to under-funded accounts, including transportation, and budgeting with unavailable funding sources, according to Turner.

The deficit was also impacted by the more than $2 million in improperly charged costs to the food services account found by a state audit, Turner said.

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis

AP RADIO
Update hourly