LUMBERTON — The Public Schools of Robeson County is in good shape financially, members of the school board learned Tuesday.
Julia Kinlaw, an auditor with S. Preston Douglas & Associates, presented the district’s 20011-12 audit, an audit that she said for the first time in her memory includes no “budget findings.”
“This was a very good audit considering the reduction in state and federal revenues,” she said. “Both revenue and fund balances are very good.”
According to the audit, school revenues included $30 million in federal funds; $138.7 million in state funds; $16.1 million in county funds; and $6 million in local funds.
Kinlaw said that fund balances in most school accounts exceeded the state’s recommendation that three months of operating revenue be available. The district’s General Fund, she said, has a reserve of almost seven months.
According to Kinlaw, the district’s Child Care Fund is the only major fund during the fiscal year 2011-12 that experienced a loss of revenue. This account is where revenue generated by before- and after-school day care programs is directed.
Kinlaw said that higher fees are now being charged for the day care programs, but because the new fees were not effective until this school year, the revenue generated by the new fees is not reflected in the audit presented Tuesday. She said that a recent review of revenue being generated from the day care programs this fiscal year shows revenues currently exceeding expenditures by about $20,000.
The auditor also recommended in her report that the board adopt a policy on student accounts.
“This year $90,491 was paid to School Food Service from the General Fund for delinquent meal charges,” Kinlaw said. “… If the students don’t pay for meals, the money comes out of the General Fund.”
Other recommendations made by the auditor include: a fraud training identification program be implemented for principals and other school administrators; and an evaluation be made of each before- and after-school child care site to determine if the revenues generated meet the costs of operating the site.
The board on Tuesday also adopted a 180-day school calendar for the 2013-14 school year. The state General Assembly has mandated that all school district’s operate on a 185-day schedule or a schedule that includes 1,025 hours of instructional time.
According to Robeson County school administrators, some schools — mainly elementary schools — will have to increase their school days an average of 12 minutes to reach the 342 minutes of instructional time needed each day to comply with the state’s requirement of 1,025 hours of instructional time.
In other business, the board:
— Heard a challenge from Jake Godwin, a retired district school teacher, to take 30 minutes on March 1 to read with a child.
Godwin, who has portrayed the Cat in the Hat for 18 years, asked that board members and others commit to reading with a child in observance of the 109th birthday of Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, on March, 1, which is the National Education Association’s Read Across America day.
“Our goal is to have every child in every school reading with a caring adult for at least 30 minutes that day,” Godwin said.
— Heard a presentation about the Sandhills Leadership Academy Interns Program. The program, which trains teachers wanting to move up to school administrative positions, is funded through a $6.2 million federal grant.
According to Walter Jackson, a Robeson County schools assistant superintendent, there are currently four district teachers interested in participating in the next round of leadership program interns.