BRADENTON – At Tuesday's meeting, Deputy Superintendent Don Hall and Interim Chief Financial Officer Conley Weiss gave the Manatee School Board information on what Hall called the district's "next step in our budget development process," as well as predicted numbers for this year's as well as next school year's fund balance.
The two said that the administration is anticipating a $3-4 million positive fund balance at the end of the 2013-14 school year, and a $12-12.5 million balance for next year.
The Deputy Superintendent noted that this year's projected balance of $3-4 million would be the first time since 2010-11 that the district has had a positive fund balance. He also reminded the board of the $8.9 million deficit that district began the year with, and of the $5.9 million in restoration costs after the Auditor General's Office found multiple financial errors committed by the district prior to Mills and his administration coming into office in 2012 and going back to 2005.
"If not for the A.G. findings, we would have closed the year with a $10 million fund balance ... so when you look at the $21 million recovery plan we enacted shortly after (the new administration came into office), I think you can see how we were able to close the gap," Hall added.
Hall also responded to claims from "some in the community saying that the reason the district was able to do this was because of additional state funding," saying the claim was inaccurate: "We got additional state funding this past year, but it was for state mandated teacher raises," he said.
Responding to Board Chair Julie Aranibar's enquiry about administration staff working to restore the district's bond credit rating after its fund balance is met, Hall said a high priority for this year would be for its financial services department to put its portfolio case together and meet with bond agencies to have its credit rating re-assessed.
Weiss advised the board that for next year's budget, along with improving the fund balance to 12-12.5 million, the district had created a positive cash flow in workers' compensation and medical fund, while addressing numerous audit findings that will help in the district's financial controls.
"I believe that the (current) budget process is a process where you attempt to get the right resources to the right place at the right time when you need it on time," said Weiss. "As complex as this is, that takes a lot of effort and a lot of thought."
The board will hold a special meeting on Thursday to approve advertising the tentative budget for the 2014-15 school year, which board member Dave Miner encouraged the public to attend to share any praise or concerns they may have for the 300-page document.
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