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School Board approves financial amendments
The Nash-Rocky Mount Schools (NRMS) board finalized their approval of five financial amendments at their meeting Monday night, which brings the system’s total current fund balance down to $2.54 million. The board initially voted unanimously to approve the amendments at their retreat last month.

The system’s 2012-13 budget included $1.5 million from available fund balance, Susan Blackwell, NRMS finance officer told The Graphic. And then the remainder of the available fund balance can be used with board approval, as amendments to the approved budget.

Over the last five years, the NRMS system has always had between $5.84 million to $6.44 million in available fund balance by the end of the fiscal year. The fund balance available at the end of last fiscal year totaled $8.61 million.

Fund balance totals are up to each school system’s board, Blackwell told The Graphic, as there is not a minimum fund balance required by the state. And according to auditor guidelines, she said, there is not any mandate for school systems’ minimum available fund balance.

“The NRMS board has never discussed this,” she said. “Dr. Jackson (NRMS superintendent) has suggested that the board should give some indication as to what minimum they would want in our system’s budget.”

At their retreat last month, Blackwell brought to the board the administration’s five budget amendments totaling over $10 million.

“As you are aware,” she told the board, “the state mandated several changes after the board adopted the 2012-13 budget. These changes significantly impacted our current budget. In 2011-12, the utilization of ABC transfer flexibility allowed NRMS to save over $1.5 million of local funds by transferring higher paid positions to the state position allotments.”

“In 2012-13,” she continued, “the state eliminated this flexibility, thus increasing the amount of expenditures the local budget must absorb. Other increases which were not built into the budget are the employer-matching retirement rate increase (13.12 percent to 14.23 percent), employer-matching hospitalization rate increase per employee ($4,921 to $5,192), and salary increases for all state employees (1.2 percent).”

The first amendment the board approved appropriates $4.1 million, adjusting the initial approved budget to the actual state funds received for the state public school fund (SPSF). This brings the current SPSF total to $92 million.

The second amendment “adjusts the Edgecombe County appropriation to the actual amount to be received this year. It also appropriates $1,058,242 in fund balance, which is a combination of encumbrances carried forward from 2011-12 and the $250,000 the board approved for the one-to-one initiative,” Blackwell said. This brings the remaining fund balance in this fund to $1.3 million.

The third amendment the board approved “aligns the revenues to the actual allocations received” in the federal grant fund. The total in this fund is now $19 million.

The fourth amendment that the board approved appropriates $554,205 from the capital outlay fund. “At the end of last year, the child nutrition fund transferred $250,000 into capital outlay to reimburse capital outlay for the purchase of school food service equipment in Rocky Mount High School,” Blackwell explained. “These funds were not spent in last year. Since all funds roll back into fund balance at year-end, it is necessary to appropriate these funds again. The balance of the $554,205 will be used for safety upgrades within our schools. After this amendment, fund balance remaining for appropriation is $175,288.”

This increases the total in the capital outlay fund to $2.8 million. Last year, Blackwell told the board, the fund balance remaining in this fund totaled “about 200,000.” She said it is left as a cushion because overspending a fund is a “qualified audit.”

The last amendment the board approved “offsets the elimination of the ABC transfer flexibility and other increases impacting the budget,” appropriating $1.5 million to supplement the local current expense fund. The donations, grants, and reimbursements fund now totals $5 million. Fund balance available for appropriation after this amendment is $1.1 million.

Blackwell shared the breakdown of the system’s funding sources for 2011-12, which are led by the state’s contribution of $96 million, followed by the local contribution of $27 million and $17 million in federal grants.

The bulk of these funds (76 percent) are paid out in instructional services, she said, most of this pays for salaries and benefits ($113 million).

Nash-Rocky Mount Schools, she said, is the state’s 16th largest school district out of 116 districts. The system serves over 16,000 students with more than 2,200 employees, she said, and is the county’s second-largest employer.

NRMS returned $4 million to the state this fiscal year, due to the discretionary reduction, Blackwell reported, which equals 71 positions. She said projections indicate that the state’s mandatory discretionary reversion may be increased for next fiscal year, and textbook funds may also be eliminated.

Blackwell said next year’s budget will be presented to the board on April 8, with a finalized plan complete by May 1. This final budget then will go to the Nash County Commissioners for their review on May 15, which must be complete by July 1.

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