The return of $195,095 from last year's school budget to the town got mixed reviews at last week's School Committee meeting.
Lynne Celli lauded the diligent budgeting that resulted in the savings.
She and Business Manager Ed Cronin said on Wednesday that schools saved money on utilities — in spite of the cold winter — on special education costs tied to clinical services, and on elementary school substitute teachers.
School Committee member Jaren Landen said she would rather the district spend all money budgeted for schools.
"I would like to spend every dime on our children," Landen said.
Celli confessed to not being entirely happy about returning money.
But Assistant Superintendent Maureen Bingham pointed out that the district is better off having surplus dollars as opposed to the shortfalls reported by some neighboring communities.
Swampscott school officials said budgeting is inexact because utility and special education cost do not follow a precise script.