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Darien, CT: 700K special ed deficit

Dec 7, 2023, Darien Times, Norwalk, CT: Darien schools face half million dollar deficit: If no new appropriations, 'we have to stop spending'
As Darien Public Schools gear up for what some officials are calling a challenging budget season, it’s already facing a half a million dollar deficit for the current year.
As of the end of October, Darien’s school district had a forecasted $614,747 deficit, running over the $114.5 million the Board of Education appropriated for its annual budget.
The Board of Education is narrowing the gap with budget transfers, most recently approving a transfer of about $99,000 between budget items on Nov. 28. However, it will have to ask for a special appropriation from the town if there is still a deficit by March.
The board cannot have a deficit at the end of the year, something John Sini, the board vice chair and finance committee chair, made clear in a Nov. 16 committee meeting.

“If we don't get appropriations, then we have to stop spending in certain areas because we do not want to ever go into the end of the year with a significant deficit whatsoever,” he said.

Richard Rudl, the district's finance director, said the board could have to freeze mandated accounts or vacant positions if an appropriation could not be secured. Sini's response: “We will not get to that point, I can assure you.”

This October outlook is an improvement from the previous $801,000 deficit forecasted in September but still about $9,000 deeper than where it was in August.

The majority of the deficit rests in the budget lines for special education at just under $676,000, including consulting services and tuition.

The district is also over budget – by about $84,000 – when it comes to salaries, which is due to teacher shortages, Rudl said….

The last time the Board of Education ran a deficit was in fiscal year 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was mostly offset by state grants….


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