Newton Budget: What is ‘carry-forward’ money and how is it used?

In a year with a teachers’ strike, a new contract and an inflation crisis complicating it all, Newton is relying on a new stabilization account and something called “carry-forward” to keep its school budget growing while other communities make staffing cuts.

What is carry-forward money and what is its point in Newton’s school budget?

Carry-forward is similar to a surplus in that it’s unspent money from one year that is added into the next year’s budget. While cities and towns have to have balanced budgets, using the state’s Circuit Breaker special education funding program provides a work-around for that.

“We bring this money forward through the Special Education Circuit Breaker Account, which allows us to have a year’s worth of Circuit Breaker,” Assistant Superintendent Liam Hurley said. “We have used this carry-forward the last couple of years to balance our budget.”

Here’s how that relates to the different numbers revealed to the public during budget season:

  • A couple of months ago, the mayor and the City Council created the NPS Stabilization Fund, which uses one-time money like that from a tax settlement with Eversource over the next several years to bridge gaps in the school budget and pay for a new four-year contract with teachers and staff.
  • Last week, Mayor Fuller presented her FY2025 budget proposal, with $282.6 million set for the schools. That accounts for the $278.5 million regular budget (3.7 percent increase over FY2024) combined with $4.1 million from the newly created NPS Stabilization Fund.
  • Around $3 million in carry-forward money from FY2024 to FY2025 is added in, as well as $700,000 to help pay for health insurance cost increases, bringing the total to the $286.3 million Nolin requested (which is almost a 5.2 percent increase over FY2024).

So for FY2025, the Fuller administration is giving the schools the money the superintendent requested, with the help of a couple of accounting and finance moves, all while complying with the state’s Proposition 2 1/2 tax levy law.

Hurley emphasized that those numbers do not include grants, revolving accounts and fees.