School board members, supervisors discuss system’s deficit

Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Members of the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors ended up having a discussion with administrators from the county’s public school system over its deficit — explaining how it happened and promising a process that will prevent its happening again.

The discussion took place during the Thursday supervisors meeting when school officials made their regularly scheduled appearance before the board.

Earlier this month, the school system announced that it might have a deficit of $317,000 owed in debt service for construction of the middle school.

The county ended up paying the debt and the system will repay the county.

James Abernathy said he did not take over as assistant superintendent of finance and operations until July 1 and that he and a consultant ended up going over the system’s books.

The system still has money coming in that could go toward the bill, including accrued money on various accounts — funds that don’t usually come in until July or early August, Superintendent Charles Berkley Jr. said.

The system also ended up not replacing several positions.

“We’re doing all we can at this point to find whatever money we can to go toward the debt,” Abernathy said.

A major contributor to the system’s financial woes was when it fell 41 students short of projected enrollment for the 2015-16 academic year, causing an approximately $400,000 shortfall.

“It really hit us hard this year,” Abernathy said.

County Administrator Tracy Gee told school officials that she hopes “we’ll continue to stay in touch and things will be smoother from here out.”

She added, “Ending on a good note, I feel like things can only go up from here.”