Shenandoah County to keep unspent school funds

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County leaders continued a recent trend Tuesday of keeping money the School Board didn’t spend.

Superintendent Jeremy Raley asked the Board of Supervisors to return $810,466 that went unspent in the last fiscal year that ended June 30. Raley requested $411,507 of the amount to fund specific, one-time capital projects listed in a memorandum provided to the supervisors.

District 1 Supervisor John R. “Dick” Neese made a motion to keep $411,507 of that amount in the county’s fund balance or savings. Neese’s motion also called for the county to give the remaining $398,959, identified as funds from the division’s special-grants budgets, to the School Board. Neese commented at a previous meeting that the county had no choice but to re-appropriate the special grants money.

The board voted 6-0 to approve Neese’s motion.

An audit performed by Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates for fiscal 2014 showed that the school division did not spend $810,466 during that budget cycle. Of that amount, $411,507 in the division’s operational budget went unspent. Specifically, revenues exceeded projections by $180,965 and the division spent $230,542 less than expected.

The superintendent proposed using the $411,507 to replace the bus communications system at a cost of $294,898 and make other improvements to different schools.

Supervisors have in recent years given the School Board county money to cover one-time capital projects, but as part of the approved fiscal budget. However, audits performed on the school division finances in the past few years showed the system either spent less, and/or received more money than budgeted for operations. The School Board then has asked the county to re-appropriate or return those unspent amounts.

Last May, supervisors denied Raley’s request for more than $670,000 the school division didn’t spend in fiscal 2013. Instead, the money, referred to as carryover funds, remained in the county’s savings. Supervisors returned all but $50,000 of the carryover funds from operations out of the fiscal 2012, according to information from Finance Director Cynthia Page. The county then spent the $50,000 to hire school resource officers, Page said. Supervisors returned $682,234 for operations and $226,208 for the special budgets for a total of $909,442 to the School Board from fiscal 2011.

Also at the meeting, supervisors chose not to act on Raley’s other request of the county to return $103,580 from an insurance claim. Of that amount, $42,779 comes from insurance claim funds, $14,152 comes from the fiscal 2015 capital budget and $46,649 from an appropriation. County Administrator Mary Beth Price recommended that the board return the $46,649 to the county’s unassigned fund balance and give $56,931 to the school division.

By taking no action, the amount remains in the county’s general fund. After Ferguson explained the process and it appeared the board would take no action, District 2 Supervisor Steve Baker made a motion to support Price’s recommendation. Baker failed to gain a second for his motion.

Supervisors in September approved a request to re-appropriate $42,779 from an insurance claim on a chiller at Sandy Hook Elementary School and to transfer $46,649 from unassigned savings – a total of $89,428 – toward the purchase of a chiller at W.W. Robinson Elementary School.

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