HANOVER — It took four ballots on Wednesday, July 18, but Hanson representative Christopher G. Amico was elected as chairman of the South Shore Regional School Committee for the 2018-19 school year.
Two representatives — Robert L. Mahoney of Rockland and John T. Manning of Scituate — of the eight member communities were absent.
Through the first three ballots, Amico and then-Chairman Robert L. Molla Jr., of Norwell were tied at three votes each.
“This is a first, you know,” Whitman representative Daniel L. Salvucci said during the fourth round of voting.
“Do we play rock, paper, scissors after this?” Amico quipped in reply.
On the final ballot, Amico received three votes and Molla two with Molla himself abstaining to decide the matter.
After the meeting Molla, who has been chairman off and on during his 41 years on the School Committee, said he abstained to break the tie and congratulated Amico on his win.
“I’d like to say thank you to Bob Molla for the last several years serving as chairman,” said Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey. “It’s been a pleasure to work with you [in that capacity] … We’ve done a lot of great things in the past few years.”
A second ballot was required for the vice chairmanship, despite Robert P. Heywood of Hanover receiving four votes, because Mahoney and Manning were tied for second place with a vote each. Heywood was then elected unanimously.
Secretary-Treasurer James Coughlin reported the school district received $10,000 more in Chapter 70 aid than was expected as well as $244,000 as the year’s final installment of regional transportation aid as it closed the books on fiscal 2018.
“With that regional transportation receipt, we are over our budgeted number by about $124,000,” he said. “Overall, the revenue was strong for this year.”
The School Committee voted a series of budget transfers resulting from efforts by Coughlin and Hickey to identify savings. Before the surplus transfers were brought for a vote, Hickey provides the opportunity to some departments to overspend a bit in the interest of completing the educational process, Coughlin said, noting the budget process begins in November and must estimate line item costs between 15 and 18 months ahead. That can result in savings when estimates are over actual expenditures.
A “significant” saving of $98,000 in health insurance costs, meanwhile was used to fund deficits in other areas such as the electricity bill, which was up for a few months because Scituate’s solar panels were offline for six to eight weeks.
Those transfers approved July 18 were to:
• encumber $742,319.65 of 2017-18 non-resident tuition to reduce 2018-19 assessments to member towns;
• credit $10,974.24 to surplus revenue for warrants payable for the 2016-17 budget;
• debit $17.49 from surplus revenue to accrued salaries from 2016-17 budget;
• encumber $124,486 from surplus revenue — excess regional transportation funding to fund a regional transportation fund to be expensed in 2018-19;
• encumber $365,000 from surplus revenue for safety and security expenses;
• encumber $383,000 from surplus revenue for maintenance, building and grounds expenses;
• encumber $113,912 from excess and deficiency for instructional technology/vocational equipment and supplies; and
• debit $7,693.43 from surplus revenue for reserve for encumbrances for the 2016-17 budget.
The School Committee also approved a five-year bus lease for 12 propane-powered buses at $238,660 per year from Anderson Blue Bird of Providence, R.I., the same company the district works with on its current propane bus contract.
The lease expires on Dec. 31, 2018, at which time four diesel buses will be traded in and the new buses will be delivered brings the school fleet to 15 buses — 12 propane and three diesel spares.
The buses do not come equipped with seatbelts.
In other business, Hickey outlines summer projects being undertaken at the school, including construction of a new greenhouse for the horticulture program to be completed in late fall, completing renovations on the barn/locker room project, shop and library floor upgrades, upgrades to sound systems in the cafeteria and gym, renovation work in the girls’ bathroom near the gym and removal of the concrete archway at the restaurant entrance.
“I’ll set aside a piece of concrete for each of you for sentimental reasons for those of you needing a paperweight,” Hickey said. “It’s part of the attempt to upgrade the entrance way here, seeing it as both a showcase — for potentially having the restaurant have outdoor patio seating — and also a space for our horticultural program for plant sales and otherwise.”