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Verndale school transfers between funds to cover building project

Brian Jacobson of Carlson Highland presented the Verndale School Board with its 2009 audit by his accounting firm at its November meeting -- and a bit of a surprise.

While the general financial health of the district is good, the administration had to transfer $180,000 from its general fund to cover a deficit in the health and safety fund that went back a number of years.

"That was projects not being approved yet dollars being coded into that area and it had built up over the last probably six, eight years," Verndale superintendent Paul Brownlow said. "We had to transfer that money out of our general, undesignated fund and transfer it into our health and safety because we had such a huge negative balance there, which reduced that (the general fund) back to the $1.2 million. That is why it actually dropped from last year. It should have actually increased a little."

Was the deficit anticipated by the district's business people?

"They knew the expenses were going to be there because when they built the new portion [of the school] the board had agreed to not levy the taxpayers for health and safety because the taxpayers were already paying for the building." Brownlow said. "They would just take those expenses out of the general fund. It wasn't expenses that weren't supposed to happen. I don't believe any of these members were on the board at that time."

District 818 school board members discussed ways and means of seeing that they are better informed, and that funds are properly coded in the future.

Carlson Highland's audit showed that District 818's general unreserved fund stood at $1,270,000 on June 30, 2009.

Revenues exceeded expenditures $4,316,000 to $4,186,000. The 2009 revenue was the largest in the last five years.

The school's enrollment has been climbing since 2007 and presently stands at 480.