HOULKA – The second priority of the Chickasaw County School Board of Trustees is to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent thriftily and legally.
The State Auditor’s Office notified the Chickasaw County Trustees recently that there have been no findings of fault or concern with the annual financial audit for the school year ending June 30 and the district received a certificate of achievement for the record-keeping.
Chickasaw County Superintendent Dr. Betsy Collums said she was pleased with the report and pointed out trustees look at district budget numbers on a monthly basis. Collums also thanked Connie Phillips, district financial officer, for keeping accounts and books up to date and accurate.
“Our top priority is educating our students but one of our other top priorities is making sure we have the money to operate and that it is spent properly,” said Collums. “Every spring we meet with our stakeholders – teachers, principals and parents – and get input on how to put together our budget. This district and this board works very hard to stay within that budget.”
The district’s enrollment for the 2012-13 school year decreased by 3 percent to 552 students. Average daily attendance plays a key role in securing state and federal dollars for programs.
“I would like to congratulate the Chickasaw County School District for their exemplary work over the previous year which led to this clean audit,” said State Auditor, Stacey Pickering.
Auditors went on to say the financial statements provided by the district fairly explained the activities of each major fund and selected funds chosen for spot-checking.
General fund revenues amounted to $3,473,949 for 2013, or 77 percent of money coming to the district, and was down from $3,641,269 in 2012.
Program specific revenue for services, grants and other funds accounted for $1,051,798 in 2013 and was down from $1,258,165 in 2012.
“We were fortunate to get an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant and SPED (Special Education Technical Assistance) grant for computers last year,” said Collums. “We also had a $50,000 21st Century Grant that funded our after school meal program. We have applied for a grant this year that will pay 80 percent of the $300,000 cost to install new windows in our historic school buildings.”
Among major funds the General Fund had $3,543,105 in revenues and $3,350,198 in expenditures for 2013. This was compared to $3,605,952 in revenues and $3,251,980 in expenditures in 2012.
The General Fund Balance increased by $115,022 from 2012 to 2013 and increased by $230,966 from 2011 to 2012.
“It is obvious funding is down and our budget was tighter,” said Collums. “One place we have worked hard to save money is by going to free or reduced rate professional development for our staff.”
State auditors chose the district’s child nutrition line items for an in-depth examination or spot-check of district revenues, expenditure and bookkeeping procedures.
Collums said Trustees go over expenditures each month and urge administrators and staff to seek state and federal grants to help share the cost.
“Our trustees always try to be open and transparent with the budget,” said Collums. “These are taxpayer dollars and our trustees work hard to spend them wisely so they benefit our students and our teachers the best they can.”