Heading into the budget season for next year but somewhat separate from that annual review process, the Board of Education is set to ask that $150,000 be spent on critical capital projects.
The money is to come from a capital non-recurring fund and include some funds the education board returned to the town in a prior year, and for for use on capital projects.
By requesting the money from the capital non-recurring fund, the school district can subtract $150,000 from its annual budget request, passing the savings to taxpayers or allowing the money to be used for other purposes in the proposed school budget.
The money appeared to have been headed toward less-than-emergency fixes, such as replacing carpeting and flooring in Sandy Hook, Middle Gate and Newtown Middle Schools, a door at Hawley School, the flooring at Newtown High School, and installing gates at two stairwells at the high school, according to a request the superintendent of schools presented to the Board of Finance.
However, none of those projects sounded particularly pressing, according to Board of Education Chairman Debbie Leidlein who asked district officials during a recent meeting to return with a different list, prioritized based on need rather than timing.
"We're not determining whether we are going to use the $150,000," Leidlein said during the Jan. 10 meeting, adding district officials could assume the money would be available. "The question is which project are we going to address."
Gino Faiella, the district's facilities director, said he initially created the list of projects believing the priority should be on repairs that could be done quickly, such as during school breaks or between when the school year ends and the conclusion of the fiscal year on June 30, 2012.
That was because he was unsure whether the $150,000 could be spent on projects that straddle two fiscal years, Faiella said. In other words, projects that begin during the 2011-12 fiscal year, but complete later in the summer during the start of the next fiscal year.
"The list was projects that could be done sooner rather than later," he said. "I was gearing my mind to getting that done now while the appropriation is approved."
Leidlein said she would check with the Board of Finance, but to assume all of the $150,000 would be available, and as a result could be deducted from the superintendent's budget proposal for 2012-13.
"I want to be careful that we use this money for projects that necessitate more immediate action than others," she said of the $150,000. "Could you prioritize those things for us at the next meeting?"
Some examples of projects that might appear on the list would be to repair leaks in the roof seams of Middle Gate School or the pot holes in the middle school parking lot, according to officials.
Leidlein also asked that each request be accompanied by a narrative explaining the work and why the district considered it a pressing need.