School system faring better financially despite pandemic, officials say

by KATE EVANS

The Morgan County Board of Education’s financial state was improved this past year of Fiscal Year 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Morgan County Schools Treasurer Ann Bell said in her annual financial review at the September 22 school board meeting.

Net position

The school board’s total net position (assets minus liabilities) as of June 30 was $13,525,283, an increase of $2,352,336 from Fiscal Year 2019, Bell said in her report.  Net position is everything the school system owns minus what they owe.

Key components in the school board’s increase in net position for the year ending June 30, 2020 were increased property tax collections, Medicaid reimbursements and state funding, Bell said. Long-term liabilities decreased by around $135,975, mainly from the decrease in capital leases.

Carryover, other

The school system’s carryover balance is now at 6%. The state advises a carryover of 3% to 5% of the budgeted general fund revenue, Bell noted.

Actual spendable carryover with the encumbrances removed is $2,355,608, representing 9% of the budgeted general fund revenue, she said. The $2,355,608 minus the budgeted carryover of $800,000 leaves $1,555,608 for contingency for emergencies-6% of the budgeted general fund revenue, Bell said.

Revenue exceeded expenses slightly this year.  House Bill 206 caused an additional $1.6 million in unrestricted state aid to be moved to fund 11.

COVID-19 impacts: Salaries stayed the same, tech costs increase

All regular school system employees were paid their full salary and benefits last year so those costs were the same, Bell said.  By order of the Governor, these employees were to work from home providing instruction and supporting students during the school closures due to the pandemic.

Governor Jim Justice closed schools statewide on March 13 through the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.

Athletic coaches who had their seasons cut short due to the shutdown were also paid their full salary.

By order of the Governor, day-to-day substitutes weren’t paid, but were eligible to file for unemployment for potential time lost during the shutdown.  Before the shutdown, day-to-day substitutes were not eligible for unemployment benefits, Bell noted in a follow-up email.

Bell said schools were also required to provide meals for all students and community members under age 18 during the school shutdown. The school system purchased food sealing equipment and associated supplies since meals are now served in the classroom and they are packaging meals for virtual and community children.

The school system “spent less last year on substitute salary costs, but some of that savings was offset by a significant increase in the employer share of unemployment costs,” Bell said.

“We did use less diesel fuel and have fewer repair costs on buses.  However, our transportation state aid is based on actual costs, so the lower costs will result in less state aid in subsequent years,” Bell noted.

Because of COVID-19, schools are spending more on PPE (personal protective equipment), cleaners, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, wipes, etc., Bell said.

Their largest investments have been on hardware devices for students and staff and efforts to bring wifi/hotspots to students that don’t have internet access.

Morgan County Schools has received $488,104.42 in CARES funding and a COVID grant from the state to help offset some of these costs, she said.  However, the school system also purchased a virtual school platform (Schoology) and hired an additional tech support person and extra school nurse.  None of those expenses. are covered by grants.

Bell noted in her financial report that if the COVID-19 pandemic continued long-term, there could be an adverse effect on the school board’s financial health.

Capital assets

The total value of the school system’s capital assets is $13,672,589-a 4% increase from Fiscal Year 2019, Bell said.  Capital assets include land, buildings and improvements, furniture, equipment and vehicles.  This year they installed a new roof at Widmyer Elementary and purchased two school buses, a used passenger van, technology equipment, a walk-in freezer and a snow plow.  They also retired three school buses, two passenger vehicles and two snow plows.

The special revenue fund balance is at $1,179,089.  The special revenue fund includes funding for Title 1, Title 2, child nutrition, special education, all grants and other federal funding.

Bell said that Fund 51, their capital projects fund, was at $0 since their two School Building Authority NEEDS projects-the Berkeley Springs High School Buildings C & D renovations and the Widmyer Elementary roof-were now completed.

Long-term debt

The school board’s total debt includes a 15-year $3,470,940 capital lease purchase agreement for the CMTA county-wide energy management upgrades.  The first payment of $124,077 to CMTA was made in Fiscal Year 2019 and the second payment of $256,281 was made in Fiscal Year 2020, Bell said.  The third payment that’s due in Fiscal Year 2021 will be for $264,952.

Other debt includes a 15-year $1,000,000 QZAB interest-free loan that was a local match for Berkeley Springs High School Building C and D renovations, she said.  The high school renovations project received $5.1 million in School Building Authority funding.

A $66,666 payment for the QZAB loan for the Berkeley Springs High School renovations was made in Fiscal Year 2020 and a $66,666 payment is due next year.

Revenue and expenses

Total district-wide revenue for Fiscal Year 2020 was $29,422,643, with 48% of their revenue coming from unrestricted state aid and 35% from property taxes, Bell said.    That’s a 9% increase in unrestricted state aid and a 2% increase in property taxes from last year.

Total Fiscal Year 2020 district-wide expenditures were $27,070,308 with 52% spent on instruction and 40% used for total supporting services, Bell said.  Supporting services includes students, instructional staff, general and school administration, facilities operation and maintenance, central services, transportation and other support services.

The annual financial statement for the Morgan County Board of Education for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 was published in the September 23 edition of The Morgan Messenger. The financial statements are also being sent to the West Virginia Department of Education Office of School Finance for their approval.

 

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