Interim Superintendent Garry Murphy thinks the School Committee has budgeted too conservatively for special education and outside placement costs in the past.
At last week's meeting he told the committee that going forward there are ways — other than budgeting big dollars — to prepare for unanticipated special education costs.
School Committee Chairman Rick Kraft said in an interview that he welcomes the superintendent's perspective on how to handle a difficult issue and would be glad glad to consider different strategies.
"Obviously the less money we have restricted or set aside the better, but only up to a point," the chairman said. "If we have too little available to deal with unanticipated issues, that can create bigger problems than it solves if a major issue were to arise, and Dr. Murphy is focused on balancing the risks and benefits, so any change is well-thought-out."
The School Committee chairman said the interim superintendent's contingency planning "dovetails with the push to find efficiencies from the general government of the town and the schools working more cooperatively together."
At last Wednesday's School Committee meeting, the interim superintendent said he looks forward to meeting with the Finance Committee and Selectmen.
He did mention a possible strategy for establishing a contingency for protecting against a big financial hit. That would be to set up a special education trust fund, and propose funding to build it.
Murphy, a longtime superintendent who has also worked elsewhere as an interim superintendent, and has experience working as a school business manager, favors budgeting for known expenses.
"I believe we get to a point where we get too conservative," he said.
One result of budgeting for expenses that may not arise is that the district can end the year with a substantial amount of money available.
The interim superintendent said he is becoming familiar with and is confident in the 2014 budget numbers.