Barbour BOE discovers $90K discrepancy

Barbour County Board of Education members learned Tuesday of a $90,000 discrepancy in the recently approved school system budget.

The funding earmarked for state Public Employees Insurance Agency payments for school system employees was underestimated in the budget by $90,000, board president Bob Wilkins said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Wilkins said Annette Hughart, chief financial officer and treasurer for Barbour County schools, marked an item on the May 2013 financial report for the board’s attention.

“She did outline in yellow what she considered a very serious situation, for her anyway, dealing with PEIA,” Wilkins said. “It is close to $90,000 that they missed in their budget estimate.”

Barbour Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Super said, “Usually what they do with that is send a preliminary number that is a ballpark and we always get a second one that’s maybe a $5,000 to $6,000 difference. But this one is a big difference.”

“And do they usually send it this late in the year?” Wilkins asked.

“Yes, they do,” Super said.

“So, the pattern is the same, it’s just the dollars that are exorbitant and a shock to us,” Wilkins said. “Was this typical of all school systems?”

“She said she has never seen anything this big before,” Super said.

Hughart, who is on vacation, was not present at Tuesday’s meeting to answer any questions regarding the discrepancy.

Board member Dana Stemple asked Super if the rates for PEIA could have raised that much.

“Usually when they intend to raise the rates they have public meetings,” Super said. “I have not heard of any rate increases nor have I attended any meetings regarding that issue.”

“Another thing that may be helpful is that PEIA is in transition,” Wilkins added. “So maybe we will get another adjustment in January. Maybe they are just covering themselves in the short term and will make an adjustment later.”

“If Mrs. Hughart has an explanation, I will just have her email you folks,” Super said.

When questioned following the meeting about the ability of the board to cover the $90,000 difference, should that become necessary, Wilkins said the money will come from reserve funds, so it is basically PEIA money to begin with.

“From the standpoint of money put aside already, we didn’t want to spend it because it does impact how much money we have in the bank as a cushion,” Wilkins said. “We are borrowing from the future and we need to get that built up over the years so when we need to use it, it will be there.”

“We don’t know if we are the only county to be affected by it,” added member Joann McConnell.

In other business, board members met in executive session for more than 90 minutes to discuss personnel issues dealing with a potential change during the upcoming school year. The discussion deals with a consideration to move the fifth grade classes at Mt. Vernon Elementary School, Volga-Century Elementary School, Philippi Elementary School, Belington Elementary School and Junior Elementary School to their respective middle schools.

After the executive session, board members asked Super to make a superintendent’s recommendation relative to moving the fifth grade students. Wilkins said a work session on the recommendation will be scheduled for the July 8 board meeting, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Board of Education Office in Philippi and will include a GED graduation.