District officials say they don’t yet know how they’ll use funds recovered through insurance following the theft of nearly $500,000 from school cafeterias over a period of five years.
Asked about plans during a budget hearing last week, the superintendent of schools said the money should remain in a fund where it is now while the criminal justice system processes the cases of two former district employees accused of stealing it.
“Once that is resolved and decided and moved away, I think you and I should sit and talk have that conversation,” Dr. Bryan Luizzi told First Selectman Kevin Moynihan during the Jan. 24 Board of Selectmen meeting, held at Town Hall.
Moynihan asked whether the funds could be used to convert school kitchens to natural gas. South School, Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School now are hooked up, following the first part of a phased implementation plan overseen by Eversource.
Luizzi answered that doing so “certainly seems like an appropriate use.”
“I think that as a result of all that has occurred maybe an under-investment through the years has happened in those areas, so I think reinvesting in those areas like that and doing some other things for the benefit of kids and families in those areas would be well received by everybody,” he said.
The comments came as Luizzi presented the Board of Education’s proposed budget for next fiscal year, a 2.03 percent increase over current spending.
The district received $500,000 through insurance, the limit of the policy.
Sisters Joanne Pascarelli and Marie Wilson, who used to help oversee the food service programs at Saxe and NCHS, respectively, each are free on $50,000 bond following their arrests in August on felony larceny charges. Both have pleaded not guilty. They are next scheduled to appear March 6 in state Superior Court. It’s unclear whether the arrested women also targeted charge accounts kept up by New Canaan parents in order to justify the district’s food costs. Officials have said an auditing professional is examining records.