NPS has saved approximately $2M because of a spending freeze initiated by Dr. Nolin during the school closure this spring. The town departments also had spending freezes and monies saved. The Town departments' savings went toward closing FY20 in the black. The schools were also asked to turn their savings back to the Town. A list to account for the money that was saved because of closures has not been made public by either the municipal or school departments. Both have received an email request to show these savings.
Initially, NPS chose not to turn the money back to the Town because they are legally allowed out use excess money from one year to prepay out of district tuition for the next year. It is also a common practice for schools to prepay tuition. (Typically the prepayment is done with the circuit breaker reimbursements from state aid and is not this high. In a normal year the schools do not have this much excess savings.)
In the middle of May, during a Financial Planning Committee meeting, the $2M was addressed as a topic that needed attention. Further discussions were planned to take place between the Superintendent, School Committee Chair, the Town Administrator and the Board of Selectmen Chair. As we understand it, these meetings did not result an any progress about the $2M. On June 8th, the Town Administrator's appropriation ($67M) was $2M less than what the School Committee voted on June 4th ($69) The $2M is, therefore, not accounted for in the FY21 Budget Cycle.
To put it simply, NPS needs $69M to operate in FY21. The Town Administrator is offering $67M. If NPS uses the savings to pre-pay and fill the gap, NPS will effectively start FY21 with an official appropriation of $67M. What will this mean for FY22? Will the TA use $67M as the starting point as she did this year in looking back to FY20