Oct. 5—NORWICH — With little discussion and a partisan vote, the City Council has allowed the Board of Education to keep a $1.6 million surplus from the 2021-22 budget in a nonlapsing account established last year to help cover emergency and unexpected capital expenses.
The council voted 4-2 Monday to place the school budget surplus into the nonlapsing account, with Republican Mayor Peter Nystrom and Republican Alderman Grant Neuendorf voting against. Republican Alderwoman Stacy Gould was absent. The council's four Democrats voted in favor.
State law allows nonlapsing accounts to hold up to 4% of the school operating budget, which this year for Norwich is $86.3 million, limiting the amount in the nonlapsing account to about $3.4 million.
Norwich created the nonlapsing fund last year and placed the $1.6 million 2020-21 surplus, attributed to COVID-19 school closures and remote learning, into the fund. The new deposit puts the fund near the legal cap.
Nystrom on Monday sad he believed this year's surplus should have been placed in the city's general fund. He said the school board did not use any of last year's nonlapsing fund, and if emergencies arise, the school board could request funding from the city.
The school system did have emergency costs in the last two budget years, including failed boilers in two aging schools, but school officials said they were able to cover the costs with pandemic cost savings and federal COVID-19 recovery grants.
Other aldermen did not comment on the issue before voting Monday. The council-school board ad hoc budget committee voted unanimously at a Sept. 28 special meeting to recommend that the entire amount be placed in the school board's nonlapsing fund.