Supervisors turn down schools’ request for over $300,000

The Board denied the largest portion of the request: $308,173. In fact, the motion to approve the funds made by Mozell Booker (Fork Union) died without a second.

In a unanimous vote, the board did, however, decide to re-appropriate $66,173 of unspent funds from the FY2012 school budget into the school’s FY2013 budget.

Prior to that vote, Supervisor Don Weaver (Cunningham) said that unspent funds used to be turned back to the county. But the past couple years, those funds were almost routinely turned back to the schools.

Weaver said he didn’t want the schools to assume that money is theirs.

“We’ve discussed before a ratio to be given back to the county,” Weaver said. “I will support it this time, but I want to work on coming up with a ratio.”

During public comment, Bill Sullivan, one of the leaders of Focus on Fluvanna’s Future, said taking unspent funds away from the schools in the future could encourage them not to be so frugal.

“We need to be careful to not give the schools the message that if they don’t spend all the money they won’t get it back,” Sullivan said.

The board turned down the schools request for $600,000 last month.

School Superintendent Gena Keller said she would meet with the school board at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, (Oct. 18) and with school staff at 11:30 a.m. the same day. Keller said they will have to decide how to make up for the needed funds. Additional furlough days might be necessary, she said.

Next up was Steve Jacobs from Robinson, Farmer, and Cox who reported on the firm’s review of school funding. The county paid $18,800 for the study.

The Board voted to have the auditing firm study the schools so the Board would have something to consult before entering budget season. Of the three audit options, the Board chose Robinson, Farmer, Cox because it was a sure thing that would be completed before budget negotiations begin after the first of the year. However, the firm made it clear to County Administrator Steve Nichols when they bid on the project that school audits were not their strength.

Jacobs, who flawlessly presented a five-year budget projection for the county last year, seemed to stumble over explaining the school study.

Jacobs said the firm looked at minimum programs required by the Virginia Department of Education, minimum required expenditures for such programs and contrasted that to what Fluvanna schools offer and spend.

In the end, the firm determined Fluvanna spends $5.3 million more than required.

“I can’t tell you if it’s justified or not,” Jacobs said. “I can tell you that 100 percent (of schools in Virginia) spend more than the state requires.”

Board Chairman Shaun Kenney said some in the community questioned the accuracy of the numbers.
Jacobs said he used the state numbers and the school’s numbers.

Kenney asked if there were any state mandated positions that were not included. Jacobs said, “No.”

The study will be available on the county website.

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