A summary of an independent audit of West Deptford schools revealed that the district came in under budget in 2011-12—but that might not be a good thing.
The school board reviewed the findings at Monday's meeting, amid concerns the surplus could come back to hurt the district.
The summary showed that the school district had a total of $1,140,844.73 that went unused in the 2011-12 school budget. The district used approximately 97.5 percent of the total funds received through local taxes, state and federal funds. The remaining unused funds will roll over to the 2012-13 fiscal year as local taxpayer relief.
William Thompson, assistant superintendent and business administrator, said the district typically uses about 97 percent of its funds each year. Thompson noted the budget is created with a small cushion to account for unforeseen expenditures that may pop up, especially toward the end of the school year.
Board president Christopher Strano expressed concern that the amount of money rolled over is a bit too much. Excess funds in the school district's coffers could hurt West Deptford if Gov. Chris Christie takes action similar to what he did in 2010, Strano said. That year, West Deptford School District, along with others in the state, saw state aid not only cut, but withheld until surpluses were used.
“It's like if you had you were working and you had $20,000 in your bank account and then your boss told you that you were going to keep working, but we're not going to pay you until you use up your money,” Strano said.
Strano's concern stemmed from what he foresees as possible cuts to the state education budget to help cover rebuilding areas damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Superintendent Kevin Kitchenman said administrators will examine the issue further when when the school district prepares its next budget in the coming months.
Robert Marrone of Bowman & Company prepared the audit report. Thompson gave the summary on Monday evening because Marrone was unable to attend due to a schedule conflict. A short summary of the audit report was made available to the public at the meeting.
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