Preliminary report shows $7.8M surplus for Sumter School District

Estimated net income $2.6M higher than projected because of ‘conservative’ approach in 2017-18

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 8/10/18

Because of conservative estimates by the previous chief financial officer for payroll vacancies and monitoring all expenditures, in general, very closely, Sumter School District appears it will end fiscal 2018 even better than it previously …

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Preliminary report shows $7.8M surplus for Sumter School District

Estimated net income $2.6M higher than projected because of ‘conservative’ approach in 2017-18

Posted

Because of conservative estimates by the previous chief financial officer for payroll vacancies and monitoring all expenditures, in general, very closely, Sumter School District appears it will end fiscal 2018 even better than it previously thought.

Jennifer Miller, the district's new CFO, detailed Thursday that the preliminary June 30, 2018, financial report shows the district with a net income - or surplus - of about $7.8 million for the previous 12-month period, as opposed to $5.2 million, which was previously projected by former CFO Chris Griner. That estimate is $2.6 million more in a positive direction.

Miller made her comments at the school board's advisory Finance Committee meeting at the district office, 1345 Wilson Hall Road.

"I do think the district was monitoring all expenditures last year and being conservative with expenses in general," Miller said. "And then also it was a conservative estimate with the payroll and vacancies."

Griner was the district's CFO from July 2017 through May and always emphasized to the committee and the full board that he used a very conservative approach to doing the job. Griner also pitched in to help prepare the district's May financial report for a June board meeting, even after he had left for a new position in his home state of Georgia.

In preparing the preliminary June 30 report, Miller said she spoke with Griner several times because he was more familiar with the entire year's fiscal activity.

Miller has been in her position since July 16. In her own right, Miller - like Griner - is a certified public accountant and has 16 years of experience in government accounting.

With an ending fund balance of about $800,000 as of June 30, 2017, this year's projected net income would increase the district's fund balance to about $8.6 million as of June 30, 2018.

School board member and Finance Committee Chairman Johnny Hilton said he was happy to hear that the district's projected net income will be higher than anticipated.

"We're delighted that the fund balance is larger than we thought," Hilton said. "That's good news. We're happy that we were frugal and conservative in our expenditures, and we're planning to continue that conservative approach."

Miller also said the finance department is prepared for the start of the new school year with its $131.8 million budget.

Regarding certified classroom teacher vacancies, Miller said the district has 30 vacancies as of Wednesday. She said the district is still recruiting for teachers and that number could be lower by the first day of school, Aug. 20.

On the first day of school last year, the district had 52 certified classroom teacher vacancies, Miller said. Teacher vacancy totals throughout the school year were a big contributor to total expenditures coming in lower than originally budgeted, Miller said.

In addition to Hilton, board member and Finance Committee member Lucille McQuilla was in attendance and also committee members Louis Griffith and Bobby Anderson. Board Chairman the Rev. Daryl McGhaney and fellow board member Bonnie Disney were also on hand. Finance Committee members William Byrd and Greg Thompson were not in attendance.

The school board's regularly scheduled monthly meeting for August is Monday at 6 p.m., also at the district office.