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KCSD ahead financially for school year so far

Posted: January 16, 2014 5:18 p.m.
Updated: January 17, 2014 5:00 a.m.

The Kershaw County School District (KCSD) is already ahead financially for the current school year by more than $500,000, according to KCSD Chief Financial Officer Donnie Wilson. Wilson presented November and December’s district finances to the Kershaw County Board of Trustees during its meeting Tuesday morning.

“We are ahead of where we were last year by over half a million dollars,” Wilson said. “I think that’s primarily a result of the bills going out earlier. This year, they went out the earliest they’ve gone out. I’m talking about tax bills. They went out late September or early October, a lot of people will see them, and though they’re not due until January, they’ll pay them in advance.”

Wilson said the district should be on budget for December as well.

“We’re going to be on target in terms of how we’re going to stack up against the budget for the whole year…of $17,950,000,” he said.

Wilson said that the state’s homestead exemption of $3.7 million was received a day or two after the end of November, helping the district get through December. Year to date, he said, the district is sitting at $20.39 million in collections from both state and local sources versus a projection of $19.3 million

“So, we’re a million dollars ahead,” Wilson said. “Again, that’s a tiny thing. If it comes in greater as time goes on, then that’s wonderful too. But when we see final December numbers, if there is a trend in being over budget in revenue, we’ll be able to see it then.”

Wilson reported that district spending for the school year to date stands at $25.18 million versus collecting $20.4 million in revenues.

“Again, if you see the deficit year to date, that’s why it’s so important to have a positive fund balance … so that we don’t have to issue a tax anticipation note and pay interest expense on that just to help cash flow,” he said. “Just in special revenue -- many of these are reimbursable programs -- we had received $3.5 million in reimbursements year to date, but we spent almost $5 million. That’s the way those programs work; you spend the money first and then apply for reimbursement.”

Wilson said the district had $5.5 million “in the bank” at the end of November. He also reported that repairs and maintenance costs are significantly higher than the previous school year.

“We’re sitting at $741,000 in expenditures, but included in that number is the half million that was passed by the board for spending … for deferred maintenance,” he said. “With food service numbers, year to date, after depreciation we’re sitting at $181,000, which are very healthy numbers.”

In presenting November’s activity fund report, he said there were $231,000 in receipts and $291,000 in disbursements. Wilson then moved on to the facilities equalization plan.

“We still do have $117,000 remaining to be paid upon the completion of the last few projects,” he said, referring to Phase I projects. “Once that’s been paid, we’ll be completely done … that’s quite an accomplishment.”

Following Wilson’s report, KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan discussed a proposal by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley that would make adjustments to the state’s education funding formula. The proposal includes other changes as well.

“The most significant proposal (is) hiring reading coaches in 340 schools to address reading achievement work with kids,” Morgan said. “In our district, Jackson, Midway and Pine Tree Hills would be fully funded and the other elementary (schools) would be at a 50 percent match if this were to pass.”

Morgan said there is also a technology proposal.

“(Haley) is proposing an allocation for districts for connectivity, bandwidth and one-to-one technology initiatives and also professional development. In Haley’s budget there is $356,000 that would be for Kershaw County,” Morgan said.

He said Haley’s proposal raises the base student cost from $21.01 to $21.20, calling it “great news.”

Wilson addressed how Haley’s proposal aligns with the S.C. Jobs Education and Tax Act of 2013 (SCJET). He said the governor’s proposals would make budgeting more challenging.

“It continues to layer programs on top of other programs,” Wilson said. “It does simplify some of the funding streams, but we’re still going through this to see what it means for our district.”

Wilson said Haley’s proposal would move the funding process from Education Improvement Act (EIA) requirements to those in the Education Finance Act (EFA).

“When you move funding from EIA to EFA, it then becomes formula. If it’s over in EIA, it’s not based on the same thing funding is based on in the EFA which is one of the problems we saw with the overall system, which is why SCJET really does transform the way funds get to students,” Wilson said. “Compared to SCJET, it doesn’t accomplish what SCJET does. It would be great if this plan and SCJET came together because the additional funding she’s citing here would go about a fourth of the way to fully implement SCJET.”

Wilson concluded by saying there is still a lot more to go through with the governor’s plan.

In other business:

• Morgan reported that a two-hour delay on both Jan. 7 and 8 helped provide time for buses “to get cranked” due to below freezing temperatures. He said some older buses have transmissions that freeze when temperatures drop to between 15 to 20 degrees. Morgan said it takes approximately two hours once the engines have cranked to warm up transmissions on those buses.

• The board elected its officers for the coming year, reelecting Jones, Kim Durant and Shirley Halley unanimously as chair, vice chair and chaplain, respectively.

• Businessman George Gibson presented a check for funds received during this past year’s Jingle Bell Run to be allocated to several elementary schools.

• Morgan and trustees honored Patty Sprinkle upon her retirement from the school district. Morgan said the district hired Sprinkle in 1986.

• The board determined dates and meeting for the upcoming year.

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