Northumberland to review $830,000 school budget surplus

by Audrey Thomasson

CLARAVILLE—Northumberland schools on Monday reported a nearly $830,000 surplus for the budget year that ended June 30, according to school finance director Lynn Mason.

“There was an error in the state revenue reporting…the final amount will be clarified and finalized by the auditors,” Mason told school board members.

According to Mason, the surplus is a result of $430,000 in grant revenue for Title 1 reimbursement from last year and the current fiscal year. Additionally, some $397,238.34 is from additional revenue that wasn’t recorded and in unspent funds. The surplus will go back to the county, she added.

District 3 member Gerald Howard proposed asking supervisors for additional funding for the current fiscal year’s administration category “…so the public can have a good accounting of that money,” he said.

For the past two years, county supervisors have allocated the school budget by category, which is not transferable between categories without their approval.

“My top priority is to examine where we are,” said acting superintendent Dr. Holly Wargo.

District 5 member Gayle Sterrett asked Mason why the school district has not complied with the county auditor’s suggestion that they use the same accounting system as the county.

“During the supervisors’ meeting, the county auditor said it would be more efficient if the school was on the same system as the county,” Sterrett replied.

“No one told me that,” said Mason.

“You were in the same meeting,” Sterrett responded.

Mason noted the school district uses the same software program as the county, but the county uses a “cash system” while the school system is on a “modified accrual basis.”

When pressed for a reason why the school is not complying with the auditor, Mason said she is complying with specific government regulations on schools.

In other business, board members voted 5-0 to offer teachers a $475 tuition reimbursement per semester toward certification.

Amy Lamb, president of the Northumberland Education Association, thanked the board for appointing Dr. Wargo as acting superintendent and Robert Bailey as the middle school principal while Peggy Myrick is undergoing cancer treatments.

All the teachers she was able to contact “…are fully supportive of both actions and believe they are right decisions in helping our students succeed and our schools move forward in a positive direction,” said Lamb.

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