By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
At their Monday night meeting, the Frederick County School Board learned that $1,128,002 remains from the fiscal year 2012 school operating funds.
Executive Director of Finance, Lisa Frye, explained that the unobligated surplus represents 0.88 percent of the school district's operating budget. The leftover funds represent one-time money, she said, and should be used for one-time expenditures instead of ongoing operating costs.
Frye explained her suggestion by comparing the surplus to a household income.
"If the household's income is 50,000, then .88 percent of that would mean $440 left over at the end of the year," she said. "You wouldn't use that money to buy another car and add to monthly payments, you would put it towards fixing the roof."
The main factors contributing to the surplus were lower than expected student enrollment, vacancies and staff turnover, and additional positive variances realized during the year, like energy savings, fuel and transportation savings and greater than expected sales tax receipts.
While the amount may seem large, Frye noted that in comparison to the entire budget, it was small. Last year, the surplus represented 0.24 percent of the total budget.
"We've been consistent in that we've stayed below one percent," Frye said. "But we have to be in the black, we can't be in the red."
Frye said in the end, she's happy with the number, and made several suggestions on how to split the money. If the budget adjustment is approved for fiscal year 2013, Frye said the surplus should be used to purchase replacement school buses, energy conservation projects at the middle-school level, and capitol maintenance projects and technology replacement for the division.
Al Orndorff, Assistant Superintendent of Administration, said that all areas are in need of the one-time money, and detailed the transportation situation. Currently, 20 buses have driven over 250,000 miles, and 49 of them are over 16 years old.
"You figure they're starting and stopping about 160 times a day," he said. "All that is putting tremendous stress on the bus body."
David Sovine, Superintendent, noted the hard work that went into maintaining the budget throughout the school year, and agreed that the best usage of the surplus would be on the three suggested areas.
"You have to keep in mind that these purchases would benefit all our schools," he said.
The school board approved the budget adjustment for the school capitol projects fund, but the final approval will go to the Board of Supervisors at their next meeting.