School audit shows marked improvement

By: By Chase Jordan - cjordan@clintonnc

The Sampson County Schools (SCS) Board of Education approved an audit for the previous 2016-2017 school year.

The audit was recently presented by Adam Scepurek of Anderson Smith & Wike, an accounting firm. Stephen Britt, SCS finance officer, expressed how there’s room for improvements, while using letter grades. From a financial strength standpoint, the grade is probably a C. From a procedural side, it’s more like a C+.

“We are struggling for financial resources,” he said. “If you look at it from a point that the auditors found no waste or misappropriated money, in that regard we would be an A.”

The report showed that a small amount of money was added the available fund balance. SCS went from $876,000 to $1.2 million.

“While that sounds like a lot, that still under where we need to be for cash flow purposes,” Britt said. “But we’re definitely making steps in the right direction.”

The fund balance increased as a result of spending cuts. Britt said the district held back on painting projects and technology purchases.

“We held back on some expanses to save costs and tried to get a grasp of where we were financially,” Britt said. “Things were getting close with available cash on hand.”

While discussing the numbers, Britt stressed the challenges of having $80 million budget to operate a school system with more than 600 employees.

“It’s very tight,” he said about the fund balance. “You can’t even make one month’s payroll with that amount of money left over.”

Britt said a lot of time was spent analyzing funds because tough decisions was made to make ends meet due to a loss of income from state, which is over $1 million. The Sampson County Commission assisted by providing more funds to help offset it by adding almost $500,000 — bringing the total county appropriation to $8.6 million. Sampson Schools received more than $11.40 million from local funding and other sources such a fines and forfeitures and other local revenues.

Another resolved issue was an overpayment of more than $453,000 to the Employment Security Commission. Funds are used as unemployment insurance for employees using pass-through state funds. Britt reported that the district received the money back with help from Sen. Brent Jackson, who resolved the issue through legislation.

“That was a major blessing,” Britt said about the error being fixed.

Previous suggestions included procedural issues such as making sure purchases are approved and making sure internal control procedures are being followed. Britt said the district is pleased with how they ended the school year, which included cutbacks.

“It’s all part of trying to make end meet,” Britt said. “We’ve been saying for quite awhile, it’s a tough environment for school systems right now. We’re pretty happy with the way things turned out.”

Issue of $500,000 resolved

By Chase Jordan