Mike Wike, of Anderson Smith & Wike, presented results for the firm’s audit of Ashe County Schools for the year ended June 30, 2011. Wike said, after reviewing the system’s financial transactions and records, and examining the school system’s compliance with major state and federal programs, the firm was able to issue an “unqualified opinion” for the 2010/2011 school year.
“Our responsibility is to issue an opinion on these financial statements based on our audit,” said Wike, who said an unqualified opinion indicated a “clean” audit without indications of financial danger or non-compliance with state and federal programs.
Assistant Superintendent of Ashe County Schools prepared the report’s “Management Discussion and Analaysis,” which included financial highlights of the 2010/2011 school year.
-Average daily membership of 3,263 students as compared to 3,214 in 2009/10. The increase in enrollment is attributed to the leveling of the 2009/10 kindergarten age requirement (Birthday moved from Oct. back to Aug.)
-Based upon the first month in FY 2010/11, the actual student enrollment was 3,187 as compared to 3,232 based upon the first month of 2009/10.
-Due to the “state’s economic trauma,” teachers, school-based administrators, instructional support and support personnel did not receive a salary increase nor did the state fund ABC bonuses for teachers for a second year.
-State retirement contribution increased from 8.75 percent to 10.51 percent, an increase of 20 percent.
-Hospital insurance increased by $4,527 per employee to $4,929, or 8.9 percent.
-The More at Four Office of School Readiness continued funding for the pre-kindergarten program at $497 per slot per month.
-General Assembly once again required the school system to return a portion of its state allottments to cover budget shortfalls, (discretionary reduction). 2010/11 discretionary reduction was $673,918 as compared to $493,673 in 2009/10, an increase of $180, 245 or 36.5 percent higher than 2009/10. The State Board of Education again allowed school districts flexibility within state funding allottments to improve educational services and maximize limited state funding to help offset the discretionary reduction.
-For the first time, the school system exercised its reduction in force policy. Five media assistants and three Spanish teachers were cut due to the budget. One ROTC position was cut due to enrollment.
-Did not receive additional federal dollars through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) or state stabilization funding to help offset the loss in state dollars in 2010/11. Did, however, receive $767,879 in Education Jobs Money (EduJobs) from the federal level. These funds could only be used to retain existing employees, to recall or rehire former employees and to hire new employees to provide K-12 education and related services. The intent of the bill was for the funds to be used in the 2010/11 school year. Unused fund are available until Sept. 30, 2012. The school system chose to save the bulk of this funding for the 2011/12 school year.
-NCLB (Federal No Child Left Behind) legislation still requires set-asides for public school choice and supplemental services, resulting in a reduction of funds available for school use. This requirement impacts program expansion in all funds-federal, state, and current expense. The board continues to revisit its budgeting and utilization of funds due to passage of NCLB legislation. Schools continue to struggle to meet the stringent requirments of NCLB.
-County continued level funding in both current expense ($3,635,520) and capital outlay ($300,000). The county also continued its support of the technology program and again appropriated $118,092 in addition to the carry forward of $156,660, for a total of $274,732.
-The county, community, and school system completed their collaborative efforts on the Middle School Pool project, with each partner contributing their share of the final $309,929 cost.
-The county paid $903,819 for Westwood Elementary debt service and $760,105 in debt service for Ashe County High School.
-The Child Nutrition Program continues to experience increases in expenditures that stem primarily from the increases in food production (benefits, food and food processing supplies). Due to improved management strategies, all schools again operated in the black. The legislature once again delayed the implementation of new nutrition standards for elementary schools previously adopted by the State Board of Education.