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Audit reveals positives and negatives to school budget PDF Print E-mail

By Tim Linscott
Managing Editor
The Perkins County School Board now have some concrete answers about their cash position after an audit was recently completed.
Rachel Smith of Rauner and Associates in Sidney conducted an audit of the district’s books, using two years prior financial information for comparison purposes.
Smith laid out several bullet points about the district’s financial situation, including:
• The cash position of the district is decreased $340,000 from last year and the general fund lost a cash position of $800,000 the last two years.
“You generally want three months of cash reserves of operating expenses,” Smith said. “As of Aug. 31, Perkins County Schools had less than one month.”
• State aid for the district is minimal, according to Smith. Tax dollars equated to 80 percent of the budget for the last three years and state aid has equated to one to three percent of the overall budget.
Smith pointed out that the district is spending less. Last year’s budget was $7.8 million and only $6 million was spent.
William Hakonson, PCS Superintendent, explained that the district is currently continuing the under-spending trend right now.
“I am comfortable with our position now,” Hakonson said.
• The per pupil cost is higher than the state average, however, Smith noted that many districts in this part of the state have higher costs of educating students.
“It is pretty common for rural schools to be higher in this part of the state,” Smith said.
It averages $18,128 per year for PCS to educate a student. The state average is $11,208.6.
“It has been high on the per pupil basis but it is tough to get a good comparison because not a lot of districts operate three sites,” said Shawn Turner, PCS school board president.
He also pointed out that the average age of instructors at PCS is higher than other districts and because of their experience, may make a little more pay.
“You pay for experience,” Turner said.
Hakonson explained that larger districts with a larger number of students can skew numbers a bit as the schools, in essence, deal in volume of students compared to teachers.
• Hakonson asked board members to keep in mind as teachers retire and student populations decline whether they need to replace teachers or not.
“Look to economize when you can,” he said. “Going into the future, keep that in mind.”
To summarize the schools financial position, Hakonson said PCS is headed in the right direction.