Camden schools up fund balance


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The cash reserve available to the Camden County Schools has more than doubled in the past year, according to the recently completed audit of the school district's finances.

The audit report shows an unassigned fund balance of $406,039 as of June 30 of this year.

Donna Winborne noted the figure in her presentation of the audit report to the Camden County Board of Education at its meeting Dec. 4.

"I am pleased that the fund balance has grown, but would be more comfortable with around $550,000. That figure is about two months of our local operating expenses," said Joe Ferrell, superintendent of the Camden County Schools.

The school district’s fund balance is the amount it holds in reserve for emergencies or other unexpected expenses. While school districts do not face close monitoring of their fund balance by the N.C. Local Government Commission as cities and counties do, most strive to maintain enough at least to cover two or three months of operating expenses.

Winborne noted in her presentation that she did not include a management letter this year and that there were no problems with the audit and no findings.

"I was very excited about that," Winborne told the board.

During this past spring’s preliminary budget discussions, school officials expressed concern about the schools' fund balance.

Melvin Hawkins, who retired as superintendent of schools in Camden last spring, explained during the school board's discussion in preparation for the 2017-2018 budget that the schools used more than $400,000 in fund balance in the 2016-2017 budget but would not be able to appropriate fund balance for the 2017-2018 budget because the the school system's fund balance had become “dangerously low” at $198,188 – less than 1 percent of the schools' total budget.

The subject of fund balance arose in budget discussions among school board members as they were considering school needs such as class size reduction and instructional technology.

Ferrell noted the current fund balance represents slightly more than 2 percent of the schools' budget.