For the second year in a row, the Cambridge Public School District has a budget surplus. The fiscal 2006 figures, as of Dec. 31, project a $4.9 million surplus by the end of this school year, according to the department's chief financial officer, James Conry. Last year's surplus was more than $6 million, Conry said.
The bulk of the surplus in both years can be attributed to an unanticipated high rate of state reimbursement from the special education Circuit Breaker program, Conry said. For fiscal 2005, which ended last June, the district budgeted for a state reimbursement of $1.8 million but actually received nearly $4.3 million, according to Conry.
Conry said the administration estimated conservatively because that was the first year of the Circuit Breaker program, and districts were originally told they would get approximately 35 percent of their special education expenditures reimbursed. During the state's legislative budget process, however, that percentage ratcheted higher and higher, to a final 75percent, Conry said. Schools didn't know this until September 2004, well after budgets had been approved.