06/04/14 — County finds $500,000 for schools

View Archive

County finds $500,000 for schools

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 4, 2014 1:49 PM

An estimated $500,000 in surplus school money discovered by the Wayne County Board of Commissioners will initially become part of the district's current expense budget, said Nan Barwick, assistant superintendent for fiscal services.

The "found money" was made public by the commission in April during a planning retreat.

County Manager George Wood told the commission that the more than $500,000 fund balance had been built up through the years and recommended it be divided into four increments, giving the schools about $125,000 more each year until it was gone.

At the time, there was some discussion about whether the commission could restrict the money's use. Wood told that board it had to be used for operating expenses.

Mrs. Barwick said Tuesday that no decisions have been made yet about specific use of the funding.

At this point, she said, it's just been good news to learn about the extra money.

"We get local funding, the traditional $18 million regular allotment," she said. "But then there was a pot of money that we were made aware of, didn't even know that existed. It had been on their books for like 20 years -- who knew there was a half-million dollars sitting there?

"Possibly years and years ago, instead of sending it to (the district) on a monthly basis, they had to send it in to get reimbursed."

The newfound dollars will not be distributed in one lump sum, though.

"We requested $125,000 for next year and have built it into our current expense budget," she said. "It's considered like a special allocation. Once it was gone, it was gone. We'll get it for four years.

"We'll get the entire half-million, but we'll only ask for $125,000 at a time."

While the money has not been earmarked for a specific purpose, Mrs. Barwick said her department was allowed to build it into the district's current expense budget.

"Typically, we pay for teacher supplements, our operational costs come out of the local budget, athletic expenses come out of the local budget, maintenance salaries, maintenance repairs come out of that," she explained. "Basically the local budget does the operational piece of the schools because state and federal can't pay for it.

"The board could decide if there was something specific. They could choose that."

When asked this past week whether the school board might be inclined to use the additional funding for teacher salaries or raises, Board Chairman John Grantham said that was unlikely as it probably wouldn't go far enough to make a dent.

"Really, with the way we're budgeted now with local dollars, there's not really any extra," said Schools Superintendent Dr. Steve Taylor. "The board can obviously choose to raise the teacher supplement."