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Smackover-Norphlet Board hears audit, financial reports

by Matt Hutcheson | February 28, 2021 at 8:30 p.m.
Smackover Elementary School is seen in this News-Times file photo.

The Smackover Board of Directors held their regular monthly meeting on Thursday, February 25 in the Hobgood Auditorium.

The meeting began with acceptance of the previous meeting’s minutes.

The first item of new business was a presentation by the district’s auditor, Mike Cobb.

Cobb detailed the yearly audit of the district’s finances to the board, first giving an overall report of a healthy audit and referencing several times a draft report given to board members.

“It was a clean opinion - there are no qualifications and no issues that we had to disclose. In the accounting letters we issued as required related to compliance with state and federal law there are no matters that came to our attention. There are no findings I have to bring to your attention that require action by the board,” Cobb said.

He then reported on several notable aspects of the report.

“On the balance sheet you will see a reported [amount] of cash in the general fund of $2.2 million, that is a little bit higher than the prior year, so the cash position has held firm. On [general fund] revenue and expense… focusing on general fund revenues, it’s almost $2.6 million, “ Cobb said.

Cobb noted a drop of $5 to 6K in property tax revenue in the report.

“I discussed earlier today that history with [superintendent] Mr. Black and [business manager] Ms. Willis, about the drop in assessed value of property taxes in the last two or three years. The good news is that, aware of this, you’ve watched the numbers and keep expenses in line, so that you were still able to produce a positive number in the general fund,” Cobb said.

Next, district business manager Lori Willis presented the mid-year financial report to the board, touching on some of the points made by Cobb with further context.

“If you look at our operating revenue, you’ll notice that our overall revenue for the first half of the school year is up over $115K over last year. A lot of that is due to collecting more tax revenue than last year, which is very good. We have received 57 percent of our budgeted revenue for the year, which is more than half. So our revenue is looking really good this year,” Willis said.

Willis next reported on the expenditures in the mid-year report.

“Our expenditures are also down from what they were last year and we’re also at 43 percent of our budgeted expenditures. Our department heads and supervisors have done a really good job at watching their budget and keeping within it,” Willis said.

She next gave an overview of the reason for what appears in the report to be a substantial drop in food service revenue.

“With food service revenue, you’ll see a decrease of over $50K. The reason for that is because the state and federal is paying for all student lunches this year, so parents don’t have to pay for those lunches. That revenue is made up by state and federal [funds], so in actuality we won’t see that decrease. Our food service expenditures have gone down $55K, so that makes up the difference in the loss of revenue. That includes the increase in salary and benefits due to the raises we gave this year. Food service looks like we may be in trouble but we’re actually in good shape,” Willis said.

Willis noted also a seeming discrepancy in pre-school tuition revenue, due again to incoming state funding.

“You’ll notice tuition has decreased by $25K, but that is because the Department of Human Services is paying the tuition for the kids rather than parents,” Willis said

Willis also gave an overview of how the effects of the pandemic, particularly the shutdowns, have benefited the district’s budget.

“Our utilities are down this year… We’ve shut down for COVID, we shut down for the [weather] and that adds up. Our transportation [costs] have considerably decreased from not running the buses as much. We’ve been out of school more, we haven’t had any field trips and have had not nearly as many away sports games due to cancellations due to COVID,” Willis said.

She next reported on sports revenue and expenditures.

“The athletic gate revenue has decreased over $20K due to fewer people being allowed into ball games, but if you look down at the expenditures those have decreased by $14K,” Willis said.

The next two new business items- a recommendation to approve Educators Legal Liability Insurance and a recommendation to approve an extension of the Act 1240 Waiver Resolution, passed unanimously.

Act 1240 “allows school districts to petition the State Board of Education for the same waivers granted to open-enrollment charter schools if any students residing in the district attend a charter school” according to the Arkansas Legislature’s website.

Superintendent Jason Black offered an update on damage caused by the recent winter storms to district campuses.

“We had a three or four leaks, including a pretty good-sized one at the gym and a substantial one at a science classroom at the high school. We also had about $30K damage to awnings over there. We’ve been talking to insurance and they’ve asked us to take pictures… They’ve told us to basically go ahead and start talking to contractors to take a look and make sure to keep our pictures and information. Everyone Is back in school and we have some things roped off, but all-in-all we got lucky,” Black said.

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