Shenandoah schools want funds for radios

WOODSTOCK — Shenandoah County Public Schools officials say money it didn’t spend last year could cover new radios for buses.

Superintendent Jeremy Raley has asked the county to re-appropriate $810,466 in unspent funds from its fiscal 2014 budget. Specifically, the request, if granted, would move the money from the unassigned fund balance to the school division.

Of the total amount, $398,959 comes from the division’s special-grants budget. The remaining $411,507 would fund one-time capital projects.

The Board of Supervisors heard Raley’s request Tuesday but doesn’t plan to take action until its April 14 meeting.

An audit of the school division’s finances in fiscal 2014 showed a carryover-fund balance of $810,466, of which $411,507 comes from savings out of the system’s operational budget, according to information from Raley.

The fund balance from operations comes from a combination of revenues exceeding, and spending less than the amount anticipated in the budget. The division received $180,965 in additional revenue and spent $230,542 less than budgeted.

If the board approves Raley’s request, the division would spend $294,898 of the $411,507 to replace the school bus communication system. The division would use the remaining funds to replace a cafeteria curtain at Ashby Lee Elementary School, a water main at Signal Knob Middle School, fire alarm panels at Strasburg and Central high schools, to provide erosion control at Strasburg High School and switch-gear maintenance at the middle schools.

The items the division would fund with the money are listed on the capital improvement plan, Raley told the board.

“The question is the first item, the replacement of the school bus communication system, that is in the capital improvement plan but it was in later years because we did not anticipate the need to replace this as immediately as it happened,” Raley said.

The superintendent said most of the projects in the request are not listed as urgent requests as supervisors are considering those during their deliberations over the next fiscal year’s budget.

Supervisor John R. “Dick” Neese said he didn’t see that the board has a choice with regards to the request for the grant money. Neese voiced concerns about the request for the rest of the money.

“But I think the remainder of that should be tied in with our budget discussions … before I can make any decision on that $400,000,” Neese said, adding that Raley is expected to present his spending request for fiscal 2016 at the board’s work session Thursday.

Raley also is requesting that the county re-appropriate an insurance claim of $103,580 to the system to cover one-time maintenance projects. Of that amount, $42,779 comes from a claim on a chiller that failed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The division is requesting the claim and what it spent over that amount to replace the chiller. Price has recommended that the board return $42,779 to the school division and put the remaining $46,649 in the county’s reserves. The board will consider Raley’s request at its April 14 meeting.

Also at the meeting, supervisors:

• Approved a request by Access Independence to proclaim April 11-17 as disABILITY Awareness Week;

• Approved a request to proclaim April as National County Government Month;

• Approved the sale of two surplus properties on Jadwyn Road in Woodstock and Stonewall Lane in Mount Jackson totaling almost an acre. No one spoke during the public hearing held on the matter. The School Board declared both small properties as surplus. The county then put the properties up for sale to the highest bidders — $2,571 for the Jadwyn Road property and $560 for the land on Stonewall Lane. The bids came in higher than the assessed values of the properties, County Administrator Mary Beth Price said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com