WINDSOR - The ‘Good News’ continues.

At the Sept. 14 meeting of the Bertie County Board of Education, Bertie County Schools Chief Financial Officer Steven Harrell and Dale Smith, Accountant with Anderson Smith & Wike, Certified Public Accountant firm of Rockingham, presented the board with draft audit results from end of June 2020 to the same period June 2021.

After having zero findings reported for the prior fiscal year, Smith noted that 2020-2021 had zero findings out of order for the second reporting period in a row, both coming under Superintendent Dr. Otis Smallwood’s administration. It marked the second time in recent history, there were zero findings.

“We made sure we got through all the guidelines and that we’re spending the money like we’re supposed to,” said Harrell.

With assets of $2,264,752 against liabilities of $190,758, leaving a healthy total of $2,074,174 in the General Fund Balance. The total Governmental Fund assets totaled $4,687,286 with liabilities of $808,062 for a total of $3,879,224.

“The Local Government Commission has to approve (the audit),” said Smith, “And that is just a formality. But this is what you want to receive.”

The Report on Compliance of Internal Control, Report on Compliance with Federal Programs, and the Report on Compliance with State Programs all received favorable marks in the audit’s compliance statement. It also indicated a more through review because of all the COVID funds that were coming into the district.

“We’re happy to report that all three of these letters are all clean, unmodified reports, meaning there were no questions or issues reflected in them; basically letting you know there were no improper use of grant funds, all in compliance with budgets approved by the Board of Education,” Smith noted.

Assigned in the subsequent year’s expenditures was $650,000 – a number estimated in the draft audit, meaning it could go up or down – that could be spent on the upgrading of athletic facilities across the district.

“This isn’t an ongoing expenditure, just a one-time thing coming out of the Fund Balance, so spend it wisely,” he expressed.

A brief discussion ensued regarding the athletic complex cost and funding for the teacher housing project. The board thanked Harrell and his financial team for their hard work. Board vice-chairman Norman Cherry made a motion to accept the audit report as presented, and it carried unanimously.

“Things right now are looking up,” Harrell stated. “I hope folks in Bertie County are on a positive note with Dr. Smallwood and the people in the school system because the money we received this go-round is once-in-a-lifetime and it can transform a district into doing some really good things, and hopefully that will transpire in the next few years.”

“Hiring the right people was key,” said Smallwood later. “Also, having in-house checks-and-balances and protocols in place where people could regularly review items to make sure we were following all policies and procedures according to federal, state, and local policy.

“Using those federal funding streams wherever we could allowed us to carryover state dollars and save local dollars,” Smallwood concluded.

Gene Motley can be reached via email at

Thadd White is Group Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance, Chowan Herald, Perquimans Weekly, The Enterprise & Eastern North Carolina Living. He can be reached via email at