Morgan County Schools plans to weigh programs as COVID funding goes away

by Kate Evans

The Morgan County Board of Education’s financial situation has improved over the past several years with the receipt of COVID-related monies and an increase in net position. Net position is the difference between everything the school system owns and what they owe.

However, Morgan County Schools Treasurer Ann Bell said in her annual review of the Morgan County Board of Education’s financial statement that the American Rescue Plan (ARP)  monies are running out this week and other recovery monies are ending in 2024.

They’re planning for how to sustain the programs and positions that were possible through those funds when these monies are no longer available, she said.  Bell’s presentation occurred at the September 19 school board meeting.

Less money was also used from the general expenditure fund for expenses because of the COVID-related funding and grants, Bell said.

COVID monies

In 2020 and 2021 Morgan County Schools received a total of $7,097,888 in COVID-19 assistance.  They were given $448,104 in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSERF) monies to assist with the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

The school system received  $1,905,036 in ESSERF II funds to help mitigate the expenses incurred directly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morgan County Schools got $4,744,748 in American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding to help support   safely reopening and sustaining the safe operation of schools while meeting the academic, social, emotional and mental health needs of students resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Net position

As of June 30, 2023,  Morgan County Schools total net position was $22,307,498, an increase of  $3,253,006 in net position from Fiscal Year 2022, Bell said.  This rise is mostly from increased current and right-of-use assets. (leases)

Of this $22,307,498 net position amount, some $10,733,223 may be used to meet the government’s ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors, Bell said.  The largest portion of the board’s net position (45%) is capital assets-buildings, land, equipment, vehicles and furniture) and any debt related to them.

Fund balances, carryover

As of the close of the current Fiscal Year 2023, the Board’s governmental funds reported
combined ending fund balances of $12,834,535, an increase of $2,516,465 from the prior year. Approximately $6,117,607 of this amount, which is the unreserved fund balance for the general fund, is available for spending at the board’s discretion, Bell said.  The

unreserved fund balance is up from last year’s amount of $4,702,871.

Actual spendable carryover with the encumbrances removed is $5,738,586, which represents 19% of the budgeted general fund revenue. The state recommends that school districts keep enough funds to cover two months of operating expenses in reserve, Bell noted.

The $5,738,586 less the budgeted carryover of $1,650,000 leaves $4,088,586 for contingency for emergencies, which is 14% of the budgeted Fiscal Year 2024 general fund revenue, Bell said.

The fund balance of the Special Revenue Fund is $1,529,611.   The special revenue fund includes funding for Title 1, Title 2, child nutrition, special education, all grants and other federal funding.

The fund balance of the School Activity Fund is $636,962 and the fund balance of the Federal Stimulus & Stabilization fund is $0.  The fund balance of the Capital Projects Fund is $47,879.

Right-of-use assets increased by approximately $382,323, which indicates the renewal of a multi-year county-wide copier/printer lease and subscription-based information technology arrangements.

The subscription-based information technology arrangements have to be reported as leases, which is new for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, Bell said. This included software agreements beyond the end of the fiscal year and electronic textbooks.

Capital assets

Capital assets for the school system decreased by $246,581 to $13,473,331 in Fiscal Year 2023 due to annual depreciation and the school system’s inability to purchase school buses due to the shortage of supply, Bell said.

Capital asset purchases in Fiscal Year 2023 included a book vending machine, a walk-in cooler, outdoor classroom physical education equipment, a scoreboard, technology infrastructure, a welding table/booth, a hot food serving table, a Widmyer Elementary entrance sign, two passenger vans and a refrigerated box truck. One school bus was retired.

Long-term debt

The school board’s long-term total debt includes their CMTA lease/purchase agreement for the county-wide energy management performance upgrades.  A payment of $251,316 was made in Fiscal Year 2023. Next year’s payment will be $267,664, Bell said.

Other long-term debt includes a QZAB interest-free loan that was a local match for the Berkeley Springs High School Building C and D renovations.  A $66,666 QZAB loan payment for the Berkeley Springs High School renovations was made in Fiscal Year 2023 and a $66,666 payment is due next year.

Revenue and expenses

Total district-wide revenue for the school system in Fiscal Year 2023 was $32,309,748 with 38% of their revenue coming from unrestricted state aid, 34% from property taxes and 18% from operating grants and contributions, Bell said.

Property tax revenue decreased by approximately $519,188, mostly from decreased local tax collections, said Bell in her report.

Total Fiscal Year 2023 district-wide expenditures were $29,056,741 with 53% spent on instruction, 40% used for total supporting services and 7% for food services, Bell said.  Supporting services include students, instructional staff, general and school administration, facilities operation and maintenance, central services, transportation and other support services.

Overall expenses increased by around $3,355,391-primarily due to increases in the cost of instruction from legislative salary increases and the recovery of learning loss due to the pandemic,  Bell said.

The annual financial statement for the Morgan County Board of Education for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023 is published in today’s edition of The Morgan Messenger. The financial statement was sent to the West Virginia Department of Education Office of School Finance for approval.