SHIRLEY -- After gaining town approvals, the School Committee re-certified a decreased school budget for fiscal 2015.
The total assessment for both towns decreased by $153,403 from the original budget the committee certified in March. The cuts came from decreases Superintendent of Schools Carl Mock outlined before the School Committee June 10.
The biggest decrease comes from a $170,000 drop in charter tuition, although charter-tuition reimbursement from the state decreased by $30,000 as a result.
Special-education costs decreased by $4,683, made possible by salary changes to nonteaching staff, Mock said.
Shirley's assessment was approved at $5,729,779, a 7.5 percent increase from last fiscal year.
In turn, Ayer's assessment lowered by about $99,000 to $9,266,326, although Ayer voters approved a higher amount at their Town Meeting.
District Finance Director Evan Katz said officials tried to capture all the adjustments and tighten things up.
"This document will take us well into the fiscal year and we'll do our first budget report in the fall and let you know where things stand," he said.
Meanwhile, an independent financial audit for fiscal 2013 suggested improvements in controls over student activity funds and financial reports. The report cites the lack of a policy and procedure manual for student activity funds.
"As a result, several schools did not have adequate training to reconcile cash to ledger balances, did not maintain adequate supporting documentation and had certain problems related to segregation of duties," the report states.
Sheryl Stephens Burke of Melanson Heath and Co, which ran the audit, said auditors have talked with Katz and his staff and will, hopefully, be able to provide some guidance.
The only other finding cited a problem with financial reporting. The report recommends the district monitor its balance sheet on a monthly basis, instead of relying on a year-end audit to adjust its statements.
Katz said that every year, the district makes more improvements.
"I feel we have a very strong financial system. I think it's stood the test of time over the three years," he said.
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