District's CFO will give report on surplus

Finance meeting will be Thursday


The monthly financial report for August and discussion of the revised district capital projects list for this year headline Sumter School District Board of Trustees' Finance Committee meeting set for Thursday at the district office.

District staff sent out the agenda to the media Tuesday.

New district Chief Financial Officer Chris Griner will present the August financial report to the committee, which consists of a few board members and also local private-business owners who are appointed by the full board of trustees.

The updated, or revised, capital projects list for this school year was passed by the full board at its last meeting Sept. 8. The list - consisting of classroom instructional technology needs and school maintenance/operational needs in the district - totals about $10.8 million.

The projects list previously amounted to $11.4 million, but the board decided in late August to decrease short-term borrowing by about $3 million for this year via a standard-bond resolution. In its place, the district decided it will use more than $2 million in leftover capital projects money it has on hand from previous years and trimmed the list a little.

Griner said district staff prioritized the updated projects list based on the biggest needs in the district. Some painting projects at schools were cut, among others.

Griner is also expected to report to the committee Thursday that his preliminary fiscal year 2017 financial report for the district will have a year-end surplus of about $665,000, after all accruals. That's about $260,000 higher than his previous calculations last month for the fiscal 2017 ending fund balance.

Griner reported the updated total at the Sept. 8 board meeting and said the increase was partly because of additional military impact aid revenue recently received by the district from the federal government related to Shaw Air Force Base.

Griner started his position as district CFO on July 17. The district operated without a CFO for the two previous years. Then-superintendent Frank Baker and the board hired Griner after implementing emergency cost-cutting measures after the December release of the fiscal 2016 audit report, which revealed the district overspent by $6.2 million that year and had an ending general fund balance on June 30, 2016, of $106,449 - a critically low level, according to the district's auditor.

The board hired a financial consultant shortly after the audit release, and he worked with the district for about seven months.

In unrelated financial matters, the state Department of Education released last week its audit report on financial improprieties in the district's Early Childhood Education Program. The department's Office of Auditing Services asserts district 4-year-old kindergarten program administrators misused about $177,000 in state funding in recent years. The State Law Enforcement Division is conducting a criminal investigation, but the district has already reimbursed the full amount to the state department in an effort to move forward appropriately.

The district explained last week the misused early childhood education spending didn't contribute to the $6.2 million general fund balance budget deficit because the program operated under a special revenue fund, which is not part of the general fund.

Also in response to the state department's audit report, the district - under the leadership of Interim Superintendent Debbie Hamm and Griner - has also implemented a corrective action plan for the program. That plan includes conducting a monthly review of all purchases under $2,500 for the program to determine if they are reasonable and allowable items for program use.

Local industrial leader Greg Thompson, who's also a board finance committee member, said he thinks Griner and Hamm are doing good work to get the district back in order and were excellent hires by the district.

"It appears to me Mr. Griner is certainly putting the processes in place to prevent errors like this in the future for an organization that operates with a $130 million budget annually," Thompson said. "I'm real pleased with what I've seen so far from Griner and Hamm."

Thursday's board Finance Committee meeting at the district office, 1345 Wilson Hall Road, is set for 9 a.m. Like all board-related meetings, the committee meeting is open to the public.