District Issues Statement on Newspaper Article
On July 5, The State newspaper published an article that stated Richland One made a $4.5 million budgeting “mistake” by relying on expected carry-over funds to balance our 2019-2020 budget. That statement is simply not correct. The article also claimed that the “mistake” created a deficit leading to a need for budget cuts. Our 2019-2020 budget has not been finalized. You can’t have a deficit in a budget that hasn’t been finalized or approved yet.
We were not relying on any carry-over funds to balance the 2019-2020 budget. You don’t know what you have in carry-over funds until you close out the 2018-2019 school year. Although the fiscal year ends on June 30, the actual close-out of the year occurs months later – for example, summer school is in operation and we are continuing to reconcile any expenditures.
When we are developing our budget for the next fiscal year, we look at all anticipated revenues (county and state) and anticipated expenditures. We hold a series of public sessions to present information about the budget development process to our stakeholders and to receive input from them as we work on the new budget. We present a needs-based budget to Richland County Council and we have three readings of the budget by our Board of School Commissioners. After County Council approves our allocation and we know what we will get from the state, we work to make any adjustments and balance our budget for third reading based on those numbers, then present the budget to the Board for its review and approval.
Because of the state-mandated 4% increase in teacher salaries, as well as the step increase, we anticipated that those items would have a significant impact on our 2019-2020 budget. We knew that this would be the case months ago. Every year, adjustments are made prior to the final passage of any budget. We knew adjustments would have to be made to our 2019-2020 budget. This year is no different than any other year in that regard. As part of that process, we look at many areas to make possible adjustments. For example, we continue to assess and reassess staffing allocations and other expenditures. That is nothing new.
As we’ve done in prior years as part of the budget process, we are operating under a continuing resolution because the timeline for state and county budget approval can vary; sometimes it has gone into July.
Richland One has been and continues to be a great steward of taxpayers’ dollars. We have a high bond rating and, for 31 consecutive years, we have received international awards for excellence in financial accounting and reporting as a result of clean audits for the same number of years.
This year and every year, our focus is on providing our students with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to achieve their potential and dreams. Thank you for your support as we continue to work collaboratively to accomplish our mission.