PE Board Talks Options

Published 5:13 pm Thursday, May 10, 2012

PRINCE EDWARD – To roll over or not to roll over, that was the question Tuesday night at the County's Board of Supervisors meeting.

The answer on whether or not unexpended school funds will roll over fiscal years will come in June. Supervisors effectively tabled action on that as well as changing the way they appropriate school funds by category, which it has done for several years, to a lump sum, allowing the monies to flow between spending categories.

Currently, the board appropriates funds by one of about six or seven categories. Supervisor approval is needed for the school board to move funds between the various categories.

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“This would allow the school board greater flexibility in the use of those funds and allow a faster response whenever situations arise that would require a shift in funds between…categories,” County Administrator Wade Bartlett detailed.

Appropriating the funds by lump sum, it was noted, would allow the school board greater flexibility in the use of the funds and allow a faster response whenever situations arise that would require shifting funds between categories.

“The total dollars do not change for the County's budget,” Bartlett explained. “It's just how they would be spent.”

The County administrator did not make a recommendation on the matter, noting it is up to the board to make a decision.

“…Looking at this, it's kind of a no-brainer here,” Leigh District Supervisor Don Gantt commented. “Everybody understands what the school's been through on their budget and to give them any relief at all in these times, is something we ought to do.”

If it becomes a problem, he would also note, it can be changed.

“…I look at it this way, if you trust…your school board representative, vote for it,” Gantt said. “And if you don't, you don't.”

He noted that he was looking to give the superintendent the flexibility to make his hard decisions “just a little easier.”

The board does not normally make appropriations until June, so there was more time to make a decision. But any change in the system wasn't expected to impact the current fiscal year, but would be in place for the fiscal year starting in July.

School carryover funds could be designated as the board sees fit-whether the school board is allowed to use those monies for whatever the school board determines or for something specific such as capital improvements.

“I think we ought to give them the flexibility to do with it what they want,” Farmville District (701) Supervisor Jim Wilck said.

Chairman William “Buckie” Fore agreed, but said he didn't think the funding should be permitted to be spent for an item that's on-going, such as hiring an individual. If you hire one this year, he noted, you have to pay them next year and on and on. Fore said he felt it should be spent for capital projects.

Wilck offered that he just wanted to give more flexibility, assessing that they “already are aware of you can't hire an extra teacher with funds you may not have next year. We just went through this-that did-with a federal government grant…They knew they couldn't do anything permanent with it so they did some temporary things.”

Bartlett, noting positives and negatives he's heard from other counties, cited that it gives more flexibility; but some localities have been concerned that the school board/school administration would purposely not spend funds that should be spent.

Farmville District Supervisor (801) Pattie Cooper-Jones also spoke in favor of the increased flexibility for the school and letting them keep the funds, assessing that the school board is “doing a great job right now.”

Still, there was some thought to chew on the issues a little longer before taking action.