District meeting set for Monday

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 9/24/17

The interim superintendent's report on happenings across the district's schools and the chief financial officer's monthly financial report for August highlight the agenda for Sumter School District's Board of Trustees' meeting set for Monday.

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District meeting set for Monday

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The interim superintendent's report on happenings across the district's schools and the chief financial officer's monthly financial report for August highlight the agenda for Sumter School District's Board of Trustees' meeting set for Monday.

A district staff member emailed the agenda to the media late last week.

District CFO Chris Griner briefed the school board's Finance Committee on Thursday on the August financial report at the committee's regular monthly meeting. The report shows the district finished August with an operational loss of $703,416, but that's typical this time of year for any school district because revenues always lag expenditures, Griner said. District revenues generally catch up with expenditures when county property tax revenues are received at the beginning of the calendar year.

According to Griner, the district in all likelihood will have a positive increase to the general fund balance this year after the board approved a "millage rate swap," in tax law terms, at its last meeting Sept. 8. The transfer - which is technical in nature - will decrease the county's debt service millage rate by 10 mills and increase general operating millage by 10 mills for one year. The board has emphasized the measure will not increase any residents' taxes for one year and will actually reduce homeowner four percent owner-occupied taxes slightly for one year because homeowners are not subject to the general operating millage rate. The measure will actually add about $2 million to the district's general fund balance this fiscal year, Griner said.

As the district works to increase its general fund balance over time, Griner said the goal is to reduce its annual operational loan - also known as a tax anticipation note or TAN - going forward.

"My ultimate goal would be as we try to build up our fund balance is to not even have a tax anticipation note and be able to make it through without that," Griner said. "That's been my previous experience."

According to district data, Sumter School District has issued a TAN each year for varying amounts - ranging from $11.2 million to $20 million - for at least the last six years, dating back to 2012. The consolidated Sumter School District began in 2011 with the merger of the former Sumter School District 2 and Sumter School District 17.

When the board goes into executive session Monday, the trustees will discuss contractual matters regarding property and professional services, according to the agenda. The board will also receive legal advice concerning personnel matters, and the trustees will discuss Interim Superintendent Debbie Hamm's evaluation.

Upon returning to open session, the trustees will take any action necessary related to executive session items.

Monday's meeting is the board's regular monthly work session and begins at 6 p.m. at the district office, 1345 Wilson Hall Road. The public is invited to attend, but public participation is not on the agenda.