by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Because the entity in question is not a private or charter school, don’t expect the News & Observer or WRAL to say a word about it. But the Bertie County Schools has a full-blown financial crisis on their hands.
According to an article published in the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, representatives from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and the N.C. Local Government Commission visited Bertie County commissioners this week to discuss options for closing an operating deficit of well over $800,00 for the current school year. According to the News-Herald,
Bertie County Schools (BCS) first came before the Commissioners last fall alerting them to a budget shortfall they were facing that had been caused by excessive spending. When BCS’ latest (2016) audit was finally made available earlier this year, it revealed that what may have been first considered a leak had now become a deluge.
It shows the prior year’s General Fund balance for the system is a negative number: $704,955 in the red; clearly a violation of state statutes which require school systems to have a balanced budget.
Now, it’s been further revealed that the current year’s operating budget is reporting a deficit of $838,379. Because of the shortfall, the school board has been using restricted food service proprietary funds to meet its current payroll, a further violation of the law.
Unless significant budget reductions occur, the resulting budget deficit for fiscal year 2016-2017 will be a figure ranging from $800,000 to $1,000,000.
Curiously, there was no mention of former BCS superintendent Elaine White, who led the district from 2012 to 2016.
Just to recap, an audit revealed that the district failed to perform mandatory budget functions, is in the red, and is breaking multiple laws.
Charter schools have been shuttered for less.