NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – The school department is dealing with a pleasant financial situation with its after-school programs at Balmer and Northbridge Elementary schools – a profit.
“We have pretty healthy balances, which was not an intentional situation,’’ School Committee Chairman Michael McGrath said at a meeting of the budget subcommittee Wednesday.
The $11 per day tuition for the 2.5-hour per day program goes into a revolving account separate from the school department budget. It pays teacher salaries and other program expenses. About 35 to 60 students participate each day.
At a meeting earlier this month, McGrath asked for a report on the program and guidance on what should happen when there is a profit.
Each school program should carry a balance of at least $20,000 to cover the cost of “unknowns’’ – specifically for two one-on-one instructional assistants that might be needed for special education students, business manager Melissa Walker said.
Anything more than the $20,000 should be used to purchase supplies, materials, equipment and special programs to enhance the after-school experience, Walker said. She also suggested the program coordinator work with the building principal to decide how best to spend the funds. The purchases must be approved by the superintendent, and the School Committee will be informed of any purchase of more than $5,000, she said.
Profits aren’t the norm, Walker said. “This is the first year we’ve had a balance at Balmer; we had one at NES one year of $4,000. Balmer is in the fifth year of the program; NES the fourth."
As of June 1, Balmer had a balance of $28,785, and NES had a balance of $66,181. The estimated profit for this school year is $32,218 for Balmer and $29,596 for NES, but those estimates do not include one-on-ones that might be required nor other potential expenses.
“It’s grown more this past year because we didn’t have the expenses of the prior year,’’ Walker said.
McGrath said, “I think the guidelines and guardrails are pretty good for now." The procedures outlined by Walker will be presented to the full School Committee at a future meeting.