Randolph Co. schools taken off ‘watch list’

ELKINS — After being subject to monthly analysis for five years, Randolph County Schools has been removed from a statewide “watch list.”

Brad Smith, director of finance for RCS, offered positive news to the Randolph County Board of Education this week. During the board’s regular meeting, Smith formally announced that the county has been removed from the Financial Watch List, maintained by the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of School Finance.

In a letter addressed to RCS Superintendent Debbie Schmidlen from Steven Paine, superintendent of schools for West Virginia, Paine offered congratulations to the county on their accomplishment.

“I understand the challenges that come with decreasing student enrollment and declining revenue and sincerely appreciate the work of you and your board to make the necessary adjustments to keep the school system financially solvent,” he wrote. “I trust you and your staff will continue making sound financial and personnel-related decisions.”

Smith emphasized that RCS was required to provide monthly details and updates regarding the county’s finances every year since first being placed on the watch list in 2014.

“I had to do an analysis on our spending each month and send that in. Then (we would include) anything relevant that was happening that the state Board of Education might be interested in,” Smith said in an interview with The Inter-Mountain. “When the Office of School Finance gave their report to the state board each month, they would include updates from us that would include anything that we identified as an issue.”

Smith said county school systems can be placed on the Office of School Finance’s watch list for any of the following reasons: being over formula on personnel, declining property taxes, (operating) fund balance being below recommended levels and having no excess levy.

“They kind of monitor what is going on — what we carry over each year and is it declining, are (counties) way over formula in personnel — which is something we always struggle with because our county is so big,” he said.