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SHIRLEY — At a previous meeting of the Ayer-Shirley Transitional Regional School Committee, Ayer interim Superintendent George Frost said transition funding for the new regional school district was virtually money in the bank, with $300,000 in federal stimulus funds promised by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the purpose. Now, he’s just as sure the money will come through, he said. But there are hoops to jump through first.

The source the department plans to tap is the state’s share of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At the earlier meeting, Frost explained that to receive the promised money, the nascent district — which won’t be operational for another year — had to set up a Local Education Agency with a business manager and treasurer. The transitional regional committee voted to create the agency and make the necessary appointments.

At its June 10 meeting, Frost updated the transitional regional committee on the status of the funds, with a new wrinkle in the process. At a recent meeting of the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools, he learned that a grant application must be filed for the federal money, he said. But he viewed the application as just one more step, not an impediment. Officially a competitive grant, others may be vying for the same funds. No problem, as Frost sees it. “It’s called competitive, but that $300,000 is earmarked,” he said, citing assurances from Chris Lynch, a representative the education department. “Hopefully, that means we can get the money early.”

But the money won’t come in a lump sum. The delivery system is half up front, with monthly requests for the remainder. “That could pose a problem” with cash flow and purchasing power, Frost said. For example, hiring a consultant to steer the region in its choice of employee insurance plans, as the transitional regional committee previously discussed. Still, he’s confident the issue can be worked out, Frost said.

Building Authority Update

Frost also updated the board on his ongoing colloquy with the Massachusetts School Building Authority about a pending request to approve the region’s first building project, which calls for renovations and an addition to the Ayer middle-high school building. Frost has said the first step would be a feasibility study and a funding bid put before Ayer voters, probably at the fall town meeting. With authority approval, that expenditure could be rolled into total reimbursement for the project, up to 68 percent.

At the May meeting, Frost said the information packet the building authority had asked for would be in the mail in a couple of days. It called for a laundry list of data, including enrollment figures for Ayer and Shirley, past, present and projected. But when the agency received the packet, it was not satisfied with the source of enrollment information. That source was a study for the former three-town Regionalization Planning Committee (with Lunenburg) done by the New England School Development Council, a non-profit educational organization with 300 district affiliates.

It was simple to extract Lunenburg data, Frost said, but the building authority wants the development council to do a stand-alone study for Ayer and Shirley.

“They want their own, even though we have the three-town study,” he said, adding that it will require working with building inspectors in both towns to provide statistics. But whatever it takes to get the job done, the administrative teams are prepared. “We’ll do it,” he said.