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Darien Schools Return $96K to Town

DARIEN, Conn. – Darien schools are returning more than $96,000 to the town after being forced to ask for an extra $475,000 to cover the excess costs of special education back in April. Director of Finance Richard Huot tallied up the schools' year-end budget numbers for 2010-11 and presented them to the Board of Education.

"We ended the year in the black in personnel, fixed costs and equipment," Huot said. "The student activity fees were a little below what we expected, but the town was nice enough to provide additional appropriation."

Darien schools spent a total of $76,737,534 in the 2010-11 fiscal year, and the board has voted to return $96,276. The town provided $71,890,765 of the total budget, with the rest coming from grants and federal and state money.

Superintendent Stephen Falcone and Board of Education vice chair Elizabeth Hagerty-Ross went to the Board of Finance in April to ask for additional funding after the special education costs ran about $1.6 million more than expected . Though they made up some of the deficit by deferring hiring of extra staff, the Board of Education did not expect state funding to make up for the excess costs.

The town approved $475,000 to cover the deficit, though members of the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting criticized the Board of Education for exceeding its allotted budget.

The Board of Education faced a similar dilemma in 2009-10, when it was granted $350,000 in extra funds to cover special education costs. That year, it returned $275,000 of the extra money to the town.

After the board unanimously voted to return the money to the town, chairman Kim Westcott said, "I think we're all glad that 2010-11 is behind us."

Do you think the Board of Education will need to borrow more money this year to cover special education costs? Tell us your prediction in the comments below, on Facebook and on Twitter .

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