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Spending Freeze Imposed on Vernon School System

Special ed and magnet school costs are over budget.

Citing uncertainty in the state's funding levels and skyrocketing bills for special education and magnet school tuition, the Vernon public school system's chief financial officer had imposed a strict spending freeze, effective immediately.

Director of Business and Finance Michael Purcaro described it as a "hard freeze."

In a Friday memo to all staff members and Superintendent of Schools Mary Conway, Purcaro said, "Effective immediately and until further notice, all purchase order requests must be pre-approved by the director of business and finance. Only emergency and essential purchases will be approved."

He adds that the freeze, "will not impact contractual obligations for the current fiscal year."

Purcaro emphasized three points:

• The "uncertainty of our portion of State Excess Cost reimbursement."

• Magnet school tuition. It is approximately $150,000 over budget at about $600,000, Purcaro said.

• The current projected special education costs - primarily out of district tuition and transportation - are approximately $750,000 over budget, Purcaro said.

"It is our fiscal responsibility to ensure that the school system operates within its appropriated budget," he said, while adding the numbers  "represent a bottom line summary to our current projected budget that supports the need for a spending freeze."

Purcaro said he is preparing a more detailed report to the Board of Education's Finance Committee.

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