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School Funding Flexibility

PRINCE EDWARD -County supervisors put the final touches on the 2012-13 budget by appropriating the funds in the previously-approved budget, but they also agreed to give the County's schools more flexibility in funding matters.

Board members previously discussed, but tabled action, allowing monies in the school's budget to flow between spending categories. Supervisors needed to give their approval for the school board to have the option.

“If we allow the lump sum and it doesn't work out can we change it next year?” asked Hampden District Supervisor Charles McKay prior to the vote.

“Oh, yes,” responded County Administrator Wade Bartlett. “Every year is a stand alone year.”

The move, while it doesn't change the bottom funding line, gives school officials more freedom in shifting funds between one of several categories.

Supervisors also agreed to allow a school fund-effectively rolling over unspent school funds between budget years.

“Just because it is in that the schools are allowed to keep a fund balance does not mean that they can spend the fund balance,” Bartlett detailed. “They would have to come to the board; the board would have to appropriate the funds before it can be spent.”

While it wouldn't apply for the end of the current fiscal year (the board's year-end carry over action would come into play at the end of the 2012-13 budget year), there would have been little available to transfer if it had been an option.

It was noted at the school board's year-end meeting that, on a cash basis, the unspent local funds total $26,100. However, school officials were also anticipating a federal reimbursement of $7,800. If it were not received before the end of the fiscal year, it would reduce the unspent local funds to $18,200 to close out the 2011-12 school year.

In other County budget news, supervisors approved their overall budget in April (totaling $50,944,692) and set tax rates; board members at their June meeting agreed to appropriate the funds by resolution.