Five years ago, August 2008, the Fayette County Board of Education was threatening their employees with abandoning the employer supplement paid on medical and dental insurance. I decided to attend the August school board meeting.
What caught my eye at the first of many Board of Education meetings was the financial report of the FCBOE. Each year, the FCBOE operates with a budget that runs from July 1 to June 30. A budget report is given at the monthly meetings of the FCBOE and the board members can make financial decisions with this knowledge.
Trouble is employees, students, parents, and citizens of Fayette County are all affected by these financial decisions.
Back to 2008. At the June 2008 monthly board meeting, the finance department reported that the fund balance for the year that ended on June 30 was projected at $6.3 million. At my first board meeting in August, the fund balance for the year ending June 30 was reported as $3.3 million. By the next month of September, it had slipped to $1.7 million. Why?
I thought that would be a good question but to my surprise, no one said a word. This financial report did not make sense to me, but then I found there were many things that did not make sense.
For five years, several employees have attended each board meeting of the FCBOE. Here is what the fund balance has looked like each of those years:
On June 15, 2008, the fund balance for 2008 was projected to be $6,277,780.21. By Sept. 15, the actual fund balance was $1,678,283.
For 2009, the fund balance was projected on Sept. 15, 2008 to be $1,787,954.45
On Sept. 21, 2009, the fund balance for FY 2009 was reported as $4,684,593.72.
That same night the FY 2010 fund balance projection was $6,305,804. By Aug. 17, 2010, the actual 2010 fund balance was $18,412,967.
For FY 2011, the projected fund balance was $11,820,145 on Sept. 21, 2010. A fund balance of $25,047,700 was reported Aug. 15, 2011.
The FY 2012 fund balance was projected to be $8,610,752 on Aug. 15, 2011. The actual fund balance reported on Sept. 17, 2012 was $16,000,000.
The fund balance projected for FY 2013 was $1,838,106 on Sept. 17, 2012. The next year at the Sept. 16, 2013 board meeting, FY 2013 fund balance was $14,750,000.
Finally, we come to this year FY 2014. In June, the fund balance was projected to be $12,000,000. Currently the projected fund balance reported at the board meeting on Oct. 21, 2013 is $18,460,003.
Those of us who attended the monthly FCBOE meetings have forecast the fund balance each year and have come much closer to the actual numbers than the FCBOE’s finance department.
This would be a laughing matter were it not that the Board of Education is making decisions based on the financial reports. Decisions such as reduction in employees, cutting employee benefits, imposing furlough days, shortening the school year, and closing schools.
All of these decisions have been made the past few years to balance the budget and to build the fund balance.
To produce a healthy fund balance for 2014, employees were furloughed and schools were closed. Presently, fund balance projections are greater than when this year’s budget was passed in June. As in the past, the fund balance will continue to climb.
Now is the time for all board members and the superintendent to restore the furlough days and institute a plan to restore credibility to the finances of the FCBOE.
retired Fayette County teacher
Peachtree City, Ga.