As it’s watched revenues decrease and expenditures remain high, the Franklin County School Board is taking a closer look at how much in capital outlay funds it plans to transfer this year to the Apalachicola Bay Charter School.
No final decision has been made, but there’s been talk of cutting back by as much as half the 5 percent annual allocation, which this year would amount of $82,126 if the full amount were shared.
At the Nov. 7 meeting, the board reviewed a report from Shannon Venable, director of financial services, that detailed how much has been brought in and spent over the last three years of the half-mill capital monies.
Each year, the district spends about $1.5 million for payment on the long-term loan that funded the construction of the consolidated school. In 2010-11, the district spent another $930,000, so that expenditures that year exceeded revenue by about a half-million dollars.
In 2011-12, the district spent $4.36 million on capital improvement projects, nearly $1.5 million more than revenue. Last year, expenditures of $2.1 million exceeded revenue by about $400,000.
Still, the fund balance as of July 2013 stood at about $3.5 million, about equally split in unspent money from the 2011-12, and 2012-13 fiscal years.
Venable said that based on the district’s “First-In, First-Out” accounting method, the money first received will be spent first, so that she projects that during the upcoming fiscal year, the district will exhaust the entire $1.8 million from 2011-12, most of it on the school loan, and the remaining $254,000 transferred to the general fund to cover maintenance, and property and casualty insurance.
After that, the district has budgeted spending some of the $1.7 million unspent from 2012-13. If the $1.13 million budgeted for capital expenditures this year, including 5 percent for the ABC School, is spent, plus another $56,000 for remaining maintenance and insurance costs, the district would have a final ending balance of about $2.16 million, more than $1.3 million less than the balance at the start of the fiscal year. This is in part due to the diminished tax revenue, which this year is anticipated to be $1.6 million, more than $350,000 less than was the case four years ago.
“It’s obvious we can’t continue the same pattern,” said School Board Member Pam Shiver. “What can we do to stop this pattern?”
Superintendent Nina Marks said continued energy savings needs to occur on the main campus to less the burden to capital outlay.
“If we continue this pattern we will take money out of the general operating fund,” said Board Chair Jimmy Gander. “The capital fund is still depleting.”
Bud Hayes, chair of the ABC School board of directors, said he, the ABC School’s finance director Dean Vail, ABC School Principal Chimene Johnson, Venable and Gander have been meeting regularly.
“It had been indicated that they wanted to cut our capital outlay down to 2.5 percent. I appeared at that meeting and they said ‘let’s talk about it,” that it was premature at this point,” said Hayes. “We agreed to sit down and talk.
“We have had very cooperative talks in which both sides have presented their positions,” he said. “I don’t think it’s any secret that the school district has some issues that they need to resolve. This has kind of opened up a whole new dialogue for our cooperative spirit.”
Hayes said that when the charter school moved into Chapman Elementary School a few years ago, obtaining the buildings and a footprint about one foot around with the district retaining the rest, the buildings had been vacant for a number of years.
“We took it over, and there was a lot of neglected maintenance,” he said.
Built in 1976, the school was one of the first solar-powered buildings in Florida, but the solar power has not functional for several decades. “We have a solar panel on the gym, which was done though a Progress Energy grant,” Hayes said. “It (solar power) is always something in the back of our mind we’d like to do.”
He said the school has spent capital outlay money on upgrades to the heating and air conditioning system, some plumbing, and repairs of deteriorating portions of the building.
“We still have some infrastructure problems, some moisture problems from lack of upkeep,” Hayes said. “We need a new air handler and new cooler for the school, and we need some cosmetic work done, on tile for the ceiling. We’re not short of needs by any means.”
Hayes said one possible use of the money could be to clean up some paving and improve parking, which often spills out into nearby grass during busy times at the school.
“We want environmentally sound parking around the area,” Hayes said. “We have got some possibilities, we got some estimates on prospective parking spaces, and maybe some beautification of the yard.”
He said the ABC School board has managed to reduce its power bill considerably, by about 700 kilowatt hours per month, which should add up to several thousand dollars in annual savings.
“Our energy conservation program started to pay off,” said Hayes. “We’ve had a lot of remedial work done, found old things that were totally not working, and did some insulation in classrooms.
“Here we have cost savings by someone who’s not waiting for things to break,” he said.