Lost and Found - $244,000
By: Pat Hunter
At the June 26th Special Called Board of Education meeting, several matters were brought to light requiring Board action. One was about the budget amendments and the $244,000 found by the state auditors and the other about the Bleachers at Loudon High School.
The School meeting began with the agenda adoption approval. First matter was consideration of budget amendments. BOE business manager Bennie Sims explained that if the School Board agreed to approve deleting the contracts with Weeks, Ambrose, McDonald architects, the School Board would be free to use that money on the Schools Capital Project. The budget amendment was for consideration, discussion and approval by the Board.
The original Capital Projects totaled about $912,000 Sims said and by deleting the encumbrances the money could be used in the Capital Projects. He read from a list of proposed projects and commented how $50,000 was the revised amount for paving the Loudon Elementary School fire access road. Board member Leroy Tate asked if the county could pave the road; no the county does not pave, the County contracts for paving. Tate suggested a cheaper method to get around paving the emergency road but that was later found to be inadequate.
click to view video School Director Edward Headlee commented that Finance Director Tracy Blair had dropped by earlier in the week. Based on preliminary work by state auditors, the auditors recommended to Blair that the money for the contracts could be liquidated and by doing so that would allow the funds to be released and free for other use.
click to view video
The $244,000 were encumbered school funds that were sitting in an account, which were to be used for two school projects, one for Highland Park and Loudon Elementary School. Apparently, the School Board had paid for design work but stopped one year ago and did nothing more in anticipation of moving forward with the $147 Million School Building Plan, which is stalled by the Budget Committee.
Director Headlee mentioned that it would be nice to start now and before school started several projects including the installation of camera equipment for the buses and stove hood for the Philadelphia School. The Budget Committee became concerned once they learned that the paving of the emergency fire access road was necessary before the school startup date. Avoiding the possible calamity of students of not having use of the five portable units at Loudon Elementary School seems to have factored into the Budget Committee's decision. See related article about the emergency road: If I were King Ė Donít Speak to the Fire Marshal!
click to view video Director Headlee recommended that the School Board terminate the contracts and approval of the amendments. The School Board voted to approve the amendments, with one no vote. The amount of the Capital Budgets now totaled $705,763. Board members Steve Harrelson and Scott Newman were absent.
With a well funded and staffed County Finance Office and School Business Dept., why did it take state auditors to find the $244,000? How on earth do you forget about one quarter of one million dollars?