Barbour Board of Education has carryover balance

PHILIPPI – The Barbour County Board of Education learned Monday evening that the county school system ended the 2015 fiscal year June 30 with no deficit; however, Annette Hughart, chief school business official and treasurer, said all details are not yet in to offer a finalized report.

Financial statements will need to be revised at a later, undetermined date, said Hughart, due to information needed from the West Virginia Retirement Board that was not made available to counties in a timely fashion for the completion of the fiscal year 2016 financial statements.

In a lengthy report to the board, Hughart explained that to decide what funds could be used and how funds could be prioritized, it was important to understand carryover balances.

The report stated the total carryover balance from 2015, excluding the Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) liability, is $1,022,565. However, Hughart said the OPEB must, by state code, always be factored in as a liability and those funds cannot be spent for any reason.

“West Virginia Senate Bill 469, that became effective February 2012, required county boards to continue to report the OPEB liability,” explained Hughart, “but, neither the state nor the county boards are required to remit payment for any portion of the OPEB liability until 2037. We are receiving credit amounts each year that reduces that liability, but this is a 25-year haul that we have to be held accountable to.”

From fiscal year 2008 to 2016, the Barbour County school system has received $6,885,560.46 in total credits that are offsetting the $7,636,364.00 OPEB liability. With the remaining $750,804 OPEB liability thrown into the mix, the Barbour County school system is going into the 2016 fiscal year with a $271,762 carryover balance in the general fund from 2015.

“We’re doing good right now,” she noted, “but if we look at the West Virginia Department of Education recommendation to county boards to maintain a carryover balance of 3 to 5 percent of total projected revenues, our $271,672 is a far cry from the recommended three percent for 2016-2017, an estimated $571,886.”

Hughart also noted that seven personnel positions have been added since July 1 that were not calculated into the payroll budget. The estimated $414,439 cost cannot be covered by the carryover balance.

Board member Joanne McConnell noted it seemed “odd that we’re adding positions when enrollment is dropping.”

Hughart noted that monies can be pulled in from various areas, with one area being the Child Nutrition unpaid employee and student balances.

As of June 30, unpaid balances totaled $102,784, with $102,389 being student-related.

“We have six student accounts that are over $1,000 and 36 student accounts that are $350-$500 unpaid, with a total of 1,189 unpaid accounts,” she said. “To me these are frightening numbers. In 2008 our unpaid balances came in around $30,000. The 2016 $102,000 amount is showing quite an increase in receivables.”

“Our county cannot afford to absorb these unpaid balances, nor should parents and employees expect us to absorb them,” she added. “This financial drain is equal to two teaching positions.”

Superintendent Jeffrey Woofter indicated the amount owed was down $9,000 from 2015 and also noted that accounts are contacted via mail through the school system’s centralized billing system. Woofter also noted that if the downward trend should turn and show an increase trend, “then we’re doing something very wrong.”

In an analysis of revenues comparing 2015 to 2016, Hughart noted there was a $786,527 increase in tax revenue and a federal food service revenue increase of $171,449. Many areas, however, showed dramatic decreases, including federal grants that filter through the state showing a $466,333 decrease, while school support funds decreased by $822,171 and Medicaid revenue decreased $115,024.

“In fiscal year 2015 Medicaid payments totalled $149,732,” added Hughart. “For 2016 we are looking at only $34,708.”

When questioned by BOE president Eric Ruf concerning whether Barbour County schools would see any new revenue from Medicaid, Hughart indicated the rules governing what is being covered by Medicaid are ever-changing and not in the school system’s favor.

“We are mandated to bill Medicaid,” Woofter noted during the conversation. “But in the end, it’s really not even worth the labor to bill that amount.”

In other business:

Glenn Sweet, director of attendance, facilities and technology, reported on attendance for the month ending Sept. 6, noting the number of students being homeschooled increased dramatically from 83 to 113, and that total enrollment in the public school system had decreased from September 2015 by 87. Enrollment totalled 2,456 on Sept. 1, 2015, and came in at 2,369 on Sept. 1, 2016.

Sweet also reported on the status of the new connector hall being constructed at Philip Barbour High School. The project is still in design mode, with the digital design having been approved. Construction will begin in mid-November and should be completed by the end of April, officials said.