Our View: Don’t Use Interest For School Budget

by The Cape Cod Chronicle

When voters authorize a town or school district to borrow money, they have every reason to expect the funds will be spent on the purpose set down in the town meeting article or election ballot question.

The Nauset Regional School District is proposing to use interest from the $38.2 million it borrowed to pay for the Nauset Regional High School construction project to help cover a projected $900,000 deficit in next year’s operating budget. Even if this is allowable, it isn’t the right thing to do.

First, this interest probably won’t be available in subsequent years, so there will be a $900,000 hole in future budgets. Second, the money was borrowed to fund the school building project, not the operating budget. Although the move doesn’t take away from the available construction funds, it betrays the intent of voters when approving the debt. It should be used to lower the debt, thus saving the school district taxpayers money.

A better approach to the operating budget deficit the school district is facing is an override, which will provide funding for future budgets and ensure that voters have a say in how their taxes are being spent. In the scheme of things, $900,000 is not a lot of money, but Nauset School District voters deserve to have a say in how their taxes are spent, and not have officials rely on borrowed money to kick the deficit can down the road.