Northumberland schools finance director resigns post


by Audrey Thomasson

CLARAVILLE—The Northumberland school board Monday accepted the resignation of Lynn Mason after three years as school district finance director.

Dissension over budget issues in a number of areas has plagued Mason with the current board and Monday night was no exception.

Last December, Mason told the board about an unreported $430,000 budget surplus, which she attributed in part to Title 1 grant funding from the prior and current year. Over $397,000 in revenue hadn’t been recorded, she said.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, she noted that the district had overpaid into the teachers’ retirement fund dating back to 2013. Mason attributed the problem to an oversight of continuing to pay into the plan for employees who had left the district. She said she was still trying to reconcile those mistakes with the Virginia Retirement System.

“We have $24,000 in overpayments to the Virginia Retirement System,” superintendent Holly Wargo clarified with board members.

Also, Mason reported the technology department would exceed it’s budgeted funding for the current year.

Under questioning by District 1 member Dana O’Bier, Mason admitted she knew last July that technology was underfunded when the department purchased a $27,000 software program.

“You knew in July, at the beginning of the budget year, and didn’t say anything?” asked O’Bier.

“We knew the budget would be tight,” Mason replied. Technology carried over $20,000 in December and January, she told the board. “In the next month, we’re going to have to ask for a transfer of funds from other categories.”

Wargo said the issue was first brought to her attention last Thursday.

O’Bier chastised Mason for not reconciling school finances with the county for most of the current fiscal year.

“You’ve only reconciled July and half of August with the county and you’re leaving Friday?” O’Bier said to Mason. After the meeting, O’Bier said that by not balancing the books each month with the county over the current school year, Mason was leaving the district with a financial mess.

In other business, the board voted 5-0 to accept a five-year contract with Windstream Phone Systems at $287,340 a year. “That will save the district a quarter to a half million dollars a years,” according to Bob Gilbert of the technology department.

“It provides reliable phone service…and increased capacity and doesn’t take any time from the IT department. We’ll also go to 85% in e-rate funding, instead of the 20% we get now,” said Gilbert.

Votes on revamping district policy on Freedom of Information requests and including a student representative as a liaison to the board were tabled at the request of District 3 member Gerald Howard because he would like more discussion.