Sun04202014

Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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Supervisors have $480,000 question for School Board

At the last meeting of the Board of Supervisors on May 18, Donita Harper, Deputy County Administrator & Director of Finance, provided her monthly finance reports on the county and school division budgets for 2009-10.
The fiscal year is winding down and ends on June 30.
Harper noted that for the School Board, the state had reduced payments for Virginia Retirement System costs by $480,000.
Supervisor Dale Sisson wanted to know where the $480,000 now appeared in the 2009-10 School Board budget.
Harper said, she wasn’t sure, but understood from Superintendent Candace Brown that the money “is already spoken for.”
Supervisor Cedell Brooks Jr. expressed chagrin, noting that if that money were carried forward, it would more than cover the amount of $419,000 chipped in by the county to go toward health insurance increases for 2010-11.
Brooks and John LoBuglio had led the charge to dig into county reserves to provide an increase in funding for the School Board.
Following the meeting, School Board member Renee Parker told The Journal that Harper had “misspoke.”
Parker was unable to explain about how the $480,000 savings was accounted for in the School Board budget.
But it is common knowledge that the division administration has been spending down any balances to ensure that a large surplus will not be returned to the county as last year when $1.19 million was left over. 
Parker said she asked Harper to send out clarifying e-mails to supervisors and the press the following day.
The Journal asked Harper about it the next week and she responded, saying, “I am still looking into quantifying this issue, however I believe Dr. Brown will provide a report at the next board meeting.”
The Journal asked Brown about it and she was unclear about the amount of savings and could not give details.


$250,000 TRANSFER REQUEST    
Brown had been expected to appear at this week’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, June 1 (following our press time).
But it now appears that Brown will not be at the meeting as she is out of town.
Instead, School Board Chairman Lynn Pardee is expected to attend.
The reason an official from the division is to be at this week’s meeting is because supervisors want a full explanation as to how and when the School Board administration figured out it had a surplus of at least $250,000 in its Operation & Maintenance category for the current fiscal year which ends June 30.
The action item at the May 10 School Board meeting to shift the money was not listed on the published agenda, but was a last-minute item added by Brown.
She told the School Board on May 10 that the money was left over from the utilities line in the Operation & Maintenance category. Utilities are paid on a monthly basis.
Dennis Paulsen asked what the other balances were, but while Brown knew there was $250,000 extra in utilities, she did not have any other figures available.
Nonetheless, the School Board followed Brown’s recommendation and unanimously voted to transfer the money to go toward textbooks for next year and to request the Board of Supervisors to likewise approve that action.

Phyllis Cook
Staff Reporter

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