Funds to go to textbook purchase

Published 11:03 am Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Members of the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors voted to close a separate checking account that Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS) allocates for textbooks and voted to move $180,000 into the textbook fund to purchase new math textbooks for the school division.

The votes came during the board’s Sept. 11 meeting.

James Abernathy, executive assistant to the superintendent of Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS), said during a report given by him and Superintendent Charles Berkley that funds had to be transferred out of the textbook fund due to the school system receiving a less-than-anticipated amount of sales tax revenue in August.

Sales tax revenue from June are typically distributed to school divisions in August. The section that allows for this distribution on the state level was amended to allow more time for the June accelerated sales tax to ensure its accuracy. What school divisions received in August, Abernathy said, was not the complete amount from the June accelerated sales tax. Once that sales tax is approved, then LCPS will receive the full amount.

Because the accelerated sales tax took place in June, it’s technically considered funding for the FY18 school year.

Abernathy said due to this unexpected development, the school division had to transfer $39,000 from the textbook fund to the general fund.

Abernathy said the balance for the general fund, due to the shortage in accelerated sales tax, came to $581.21.

“Basically what that amounts to is we’re going to receive less funds for FY 2018 and we’re going to get an additional amount in FY19 in December,” Abernathy said.

Brown’s Store District Supervisor Mike Hankins asked if this unexpected shortage from the sales tax would only take place for one month or would continue.

Abernathy said the administration would not know for sure until later this fall.

“Although you may be looking great next year, if this is an ongoing thing this is going to put a hurting on you this year,” Hankins said.

“That’s true,” Abernathy said. “We did what we thought we needed to do to stay in the black, and we’re still in good shape for the purchase of textbooks for this upcoming year.”

Patricia Harper-Tunley, a member of the public, asked if the $39,000 transferred out of the textbook fund would be reimbursed. Abernathy said he would consult with the board of supervisors about that possibility.

Abernathy said another reason he said the school division was in good shape was because student enrollment had been up for this school year so far.

Love’s Mill Supervisor Edward Pennington said in past years, student enrollment begins high at the beginning of the school year, its peak in September.

Abernathy said typically student enrollment reaches its peak after Labor Day, then declines after that.

Hankins asked the school administration to keep the board posted if the lessening sales tax allocation continues.

Abernathy asked if Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS) could close the separate checking account the school division had used for textbooks.

He said due to new state requirements asking LCPS to report expenditures specifically by school, it would be more efficient to consolidate the textbook checking account into the same financial system the school division uses for its other expenses.

Members of the board voted to close the separate textbook checking account.

“Will that incur additional charges?” Harper-Tunley asked about the decision to close the account.

“No additional charges,” Abernathy said.

Abernathy then asked for a potential resolution to move approximately $180,000 from state and local funds into the textbook fund for use for FY19.

Abernathy said Monday that the school division is set to receive an additional $106,121 from the state for FY19 and a local match from the county of $35,847. Abernathy said the school division is also set to use funding from its existing textbook fund balance.

He said the amount would be spent on regular textbook purchases in addition to updated math textbooks that the school board is set to adopt and order in the spring of 2019 to ensure the math textbooks would be available in time for the following school year.

The school division is in the process of upgrading math textbooks for students at grades 1-12. Abernathy previously said the elementary school teachers currently do not use the textbooks because they are so far out of date.

“The copyright date is 2005,” Abernathy said, “and the SOLs for math have been revised a couple (of) times since that time.” He said teachers are pulling resources from other sources in order to give the students adequate preparation for the SOLs.

“For middle school, the textbook series they’re using, the copyright date is 2012,” Abernathy said.

He said the division typically adopts a new textbook series every six years for core subjects.

Members of the board voted to pass the motion.