CCS board looks at financial situation

Published 11:23 am Wednesday, December 21, 2016

By JOYANNA LOVE/Senior Staff Writer

Overall, Chilton County Schools ended the 2016 fiscal year in good financial shape.

However, financial consultant Kim McPherson presented some concerns to the Chilton County Board of Education during its last meeting.

She said her role was to prepare the documents for the audit, “reconcile your cash and clean up your payroll fund.”

“You’re at a good place at the end of fiscal year ‘16,” McPherson said.

The school system had a fund balance of more than $8 million and enough money in reserve to fund nearly two months of operation. McPherson encouraged the board to maintain this.

In August, 93 percent of regular revenues had come in, and 91 percent of the budget had been spent from the general fund. In September, expenditures were 102 percent of the budget, however, revenues that had come in were 101 percent of the budgeted amount.

“So you almost broke even,” McPherson said.

McPherson said the difference between the revenues and expenditures was further assisted by only 96 percent of funding from non-operational sources, such as transferring from one fund to another, being used. This left $51,647 in excess revenue.

McPherson said the financials have been uploaded to the state department, but had not completed the edit process. Once this is complete, state examiners will then audit the school system.

McPherson has asked for a delay of the audit.

“I have asked them to delay 30 days. It gives us a little more time to do our clean up and take care of everything,” McPherson said.

Chilton County Schools was determined to be a “high risk auditee” during the last audit.

McPherson is assisting the school system in closing out the 2016 fiscal year as it looks for a new chief school financial officer. The school board plans to interview three to four applicants for the position next week. The school system received 12 applications.

In looking to the 2017 fiscal year budget, McPherson told the board it needs to do a budget amendment to “decrease the beginning balance in your budget in ‘17” to reflect a half a million dollar decrease in the beginning balance.

“That is why it is important to stay current with your information and then follow the trends,” McPherson said.

Issues with the payroll fund involved the Public Education Employees Health Insurance Program. McPherson said there were “many errors, it was a hard process for me to do” to reconcile the amounts. She said she thinks it might reconcile considering a payment of $70,000 that was made in October, which would be the 2017 fiscal year. McPherson said other school systems have also had issues dealing with PEEHIP this year. She said the program would not provide a number for the employee contributions for 2016.

McPherson also expressed concern at the “maintenance of effort” funding to the special education program. Federal mandates require local funding for special education increase by at least $1 every year.

In the 2016 fiscal year, Chilton County Schools increased the local portion by $396,271. McPherson said increasing the funding at such a rate can cause issues for school systems in the future. She cautioned that the school board needed to “be creative and be wise” in meeting the needs of students, rather than “throwing money at a problem.”

Chilton County Schools Superintendent Tommy Glasscock said this budget was under a previous special education director.

McPherson said the special education director and the chief school financial officer need to monitor what local funding is being spent on special education on a monthly basis.

McPherson said there was $35,000 of federal funding the school system had secured and then did not spend. This funding will carry over to the 2017 budget, but could have been used in the 2016 fiscal year rather than local funds.

She will be working with the special education director to see what options the school system may have as edits to the 2016 budget to decrease the local amount.

The 2017 fiscal year began Oct. 1.