Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

July 26, 2012

Officials mull what to do with extra $600,000

Selectmen's Chairman Salafia said a Special Town Meeting is needed to spend it

By Dustin Luca

Town officials are discussing how to use $600,000 in state education aid it has received unexpectedly, but no plans have been drawn on where the greatest needs for the money are.

Recently, the chairmen of the School Committee, Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen discussed what should happen with the state Chapter 70 money. Each member is expected to talk to his or her respective committee in the near future to get ideas for how the town should handle the money.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education defines Ch. 70 as "the major program of state aid to public elementary and secondary schools. In addition to providing state aid to support school operations, it also establishes minimum spending requirements for each school district and minimum requirements for each municipality's share of school costs."

Paula Colby-Clements, School Committee chairwoman, said the School Committee wants as much of the money as possible, if not all of it. In the meantime, there are a list of needs they see, but no ranking has been established.

"We aren't even close to being able to tell you what that list is or looking at the priorities," said Colby-Clements. "We're just starting the conversation."

School Superintendent Marinel McGrath said the School Committee has briefly discussed how to use money. Once the three chairmen come back with recommendations on where it should go, "we, as a school leadership team, will proceed with determining priorities to bring to the School Committee for consideration," said McGrath.

"Right now, we're just looking into all of the options," said Jon Stumpf, Finance Committee chairman.

Should Andover officials decide that the unexpected Ch. 70 state money would be best utilized by spending it, a Special Town Meeting vote would be necessary to make it happen, according to Paul Salafia, Board of Selectmen chairman.

If the town doesn't appropriate it or hold a Special Town Meeting, then the excess revenue would be lined up with other revenue sources in the town that may come in higher or lower than projected, according to Finance Committee member Joanne Marden. In the end, if there is still excess revenue, it would be used to decrease the town's annual tax levy.

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