The Bertie County Schools (BCS) are a financial mess and need to get their house in order. That was the pointed conclusion of a 2016 audit done at the request of a new superintendent and auditor.
How bad are things? According to the audit:
- Last year, BCS had a negative general fund balance of $700,000.
- The 2016-17 operating budget deficit is $838,000 and could reach $1 million unless budget reductions are made.
- Audit revealed $339,000 in outstanding checks.
- BCS did not perform reconciliations of various ledger accounts throughout the year, including its hospitalization and insurance accounts
- BCS overpaid employees with state funds by more than $71,000 and underpaid employees by $16,500.
- BCS had to $250,000 in overpayments to Blue Cross Blue Shield
Bad financial management and just too many people working in a school system or that is losing population seem to be two explanations for the problem.
Isn’t it more than a little surprising that it took this long for alarms to go off? Local officials have known of the problems. However most of the coverage has been from local papers (see here and here).
Yes, there was some coverage about last week’s State Board of Education meeting where members were briefed about the situation in Bertie County as well as presented with a letter from the SBE detailing the problems to BCS and a Financial Recovery Plan.
Still it’s hard to miss the difference between how financial problems are reported an addressed in traditional public and public charter schools. Had this been a charter school, it likely would have been shut down. When traditional public schools encounter financial problems, they continue to function and receive more time to redress problems.
And the reason for these disparities is?