The Carteret County Board of Education received a clean audit report with a decrease in fund balance during its Nov. 1 meeting in the school system’s central office in Beaufort. (Cheryl Burke photo)

BEAUFORT — The County Board of Education approved a clean audit report with a decrease in fund balance for the fiscal year ending June 30.

The action was taken during a meeting Nov. 1 in the school system’s central services office on Safrit Drive.

The school system ended fiscal 2021-22 with $3.7 million in its general fund balance, a $1.6 million decrease from the previous year.

“That is a quarter of your fund balance,” Adam Scepurek with Anderson, Smith and Wike PLLC of Statesville, the company that conducted the audit, said.

He added that the school system has $2.17 million in other special revenue, which can be used if necessary to offset some of the decrease in fund balance.

The district showed $9.29 million in capital outlay funds, with the bulk of that being Hurricane Florence recovery money. He encouraged the school system to use as much of that money as possible because the N.C. Department of Public Instruction will require districts that received those funds to return them if they aren’t used by a certain period.

The challenge is the funds can only be used for repairs related to the hurricane, which devastated the county and caused major damage to schools four years ago.

Superintendent Richie Paylor said four years out, most hurricane-related repairs have been made.

Board member John McLean asked if the funds could be used for preventative maintenance projects related to the hurricane, such as gutter replacement.

“We’re not trying to be unethical but trying to be creative,” McLean said.

Scepurek said some of the other districts that received recovery money are looking at waivers to use the funds for preventative maintenance.

“It has to be tied to damage or maintenance from the storm,” Scepurek said. “I think DPI would rather see those funds go to preventative maintenance rather than having to spend more money in a few years, but the key is getting approval from DPI.”

He said 10 other school districts received Hurricane Florence relief funds in addition to Carteret County.

“A lot of the money was used upfront, but now they’ve received FEMA and insurance reimbursements,” he said.

School districts, including Carteret County, also saw additional federal revenue due to COVID-19 assistance.

“There was a huge increase in federal funds due to COVID,” Scepurek said.

The report shows that the school system spent $9.5 million in federal funds related to COVID-19 in 2021-22. This included funds to help students catch up academically, as well as for school nutrition programs.

The audit also shows that the school’s food service program, which operates as a separate enterprise, ended the year with a loss of $90,898 in its net position. Much of that was related to the COVID-19 pandemic when students received federal assistance to get free meals rather than purchase food.

The report also shows that the school system contributed $53.9 million to the state employees’ retirement system, which is 16% of covered payroll for the district. Scepurek said he anticipates that percentage to increase each year.

In other action, the board:

- Proclaimed November as N.C. Career Development Month.

- Approved several policy revisions after second reading.

- Received first reading of several policy revisions.

- Received update on the Carteret County Public School Foundation.

- Approved a budget revision to appropriate $57,078 in capital fund balance to put toward replacement of three air handler units and condensers at East Carteret High School.

- Received 2022-23 strategic plan update.

- Received report about recent parent advisory council meeting involving schools in East Carteret High School’s district, including middle and elementary schools.

- Received updates on school capital and bond projects.

- Action taken under the board’s consent agenda included:

- Removed approval of the purchase of a Math 180 instruction program due to information from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, according to board member Dennis Goodwin.

- Approved reappointments of four members to the Carteret County Public School Foundation Board of Directors for three-year terms. They are Kathryn Smith Chadwick, Perry Harker, Chris McCutcheon and Brad Piner.

- Approved delegates for the 2022 NC School Boards Association delegates assembly. They are Clark Jenkins, Goodwin, Kathryn Smith Chadwick and Katie Statler. Brittany Wheatly will serve as an alternate.

- Approved the 2023-24 budget planning calendar.

- Approved a contract with Maxim Healthcare Services for the 2022-23 school year to provide licensed healthcare providers for one-on-one nursing services to physically and mentally disabled students. Maxim charges $45 per hour for both RNs and LPNs not to exceed eight hours a day.

- Awarded a $132,259 contract to Coastal Home Service to replace three failed air handler units and condensers at East Carteret High School.

- Approved amending the Marine Science and Technologies Early College High School calendar for 2022-23 to change the school’s spring break from March 7-10 to April 11-14 to align with calendars of the county school system and Carteret Community College.

- Approved a 60-month contract with Systel Business Equipment for copier services from Nov. 10, 2022, through Nov. 9, 2027.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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