Fairfield public school officials expect to return to town coffers a surplus of $345,128 from the district's allocated budget of almost $145.7 million for the 2011-12 fiscal year that ends Saturday.

"This is not an exact number, but this is the ballpark we expect to return back to the town for them to put back into the general fund," Superintendent of Schools David Title said during Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting.

During discussion of a proposed $255,000 budget transfer, Title said the anticipated funding return is in great part due to a "huge savings" in electricity as a result of a town rebid on power supplies, a mild winter and more retirees than expected.

Allocations for electricity, heat, water and gas were in the black by a total of almost $650,000, while the additional retirees under the personnel services category showed a surplus of $434,239, according to a central office document.

The district will not know the exact amount that will be returned to the town until it sends the official expenditure amount for 2011-12 to the state in September, Title said.

School board Chairwoman Pamela Iacono thanked Doreen Munsell, director of business and finance services, for the projected positive return to the town.

"This could have easily gone in a different direction but you guys were right on the money, no pun intended," she said. "You could have taken the money and spent in other areas but you didn't. You recognized the need to give it to the town, and I think that's really important."

The transfer, which the board approved unanimously, entailed taking $255,000 from a $416,500 surplus in the personnel services category to cover a $240,067 overrall deficit in the maintenance/operations/transportation category despite the surplus for electricity, heat, water and gas, and a $5,000 shortfall in capital outlays.

The shortfall in the maintenance/operations/transportation category was due to a total deficit of $966,485 in allocations for emergency maintenance projects, including a new boiler at Fairfield Warde High School and roof repair at McKinley Elementary School, and other project and maintenance-related expenses.

After the meeting, Title and Iacono issued a news release in which Iacono said, "I am pleased that the school district is able to return these funds to help the town through these difficult economic times. The board is pleased that the superintendent and his staff were able to make this happen."

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