Mt. Vernon Register-News

October 16, 2012

District board approves audit and new contracts

By NICK MARIANO
nick.mariano@register-news.com

MT. VERNON — — Mt. Vernon Township High School District board members approved a high-scoring audit of its fiscal year 2012 finances Monday, though optimism was tempered by the district’s superintendent over future finances.

They also approved new contracts for teachers and for clerical workers and school aides.

While receiving a clean audit, Superintendent Mike Smith cautioned board members about the closing gap between revenue and expenditures. In September, board members approved a $300,000 deficit budget for just its three operating funds.

The district is paying for the deficit with reserve funds carried over from previous years. However, Smith is concerned about the trend continuing due to ongoing state financial woes.

“As with all in school leadership positions, there is always a concern. Even as bad as it was going into this year, from bad to worse and we certainly did that, if something similar again like this year happens again, that gap between revenue and expenditures could immediately disappear,” Smith said following the board meeting.

 The audit was prepared by Krehbiel and Associates in Mt. Vernon and was presented by firm partner Jim Leuty.

Leuty told the board that the district’s audit received a high score on its finances based on a grade scale used by the Illinois State Board of Education. Within a range of 3.08 and 3.53 used by the state, the district scored a 3.45, “just below the financial recognition level,” Leuty said.

Compared to where the district was two years ago — once on the state’s financial watch list — the district “has been able to maintain its financial condition, which is good,” Leuty said.

The audit was presented with no substantial findings though there were some exceptions Leuty described as easily correctable oversights in the area of paperwork.

Assets in the district were just under $6 million in the district as of June 30, Leuty said. There has been a drop off since of $1.5 million for the purchase of land for the new high school. On revenue Leuty noted both federal stimulus money of about $450,000 and grant dollars for energy savings the district will not be receiving this year. He also raised the issue of $600,000 in state aid payments owed to the district.

Asked what if anything school administrators can do to move the state to pay the aid, Smith replied: “If you want to be fully depressed, just go to a state finance meeting. It is not good, nor is there any indication it’s going to get any better.”

Board members also approved a three-year contract for teachers Monday night, and a two-year deal for clerical workers and school aides. Both deals include salary increases that Smith said came within parameters set in the district’s FY13 budget.

The teachers contract replaces a two-year deal that expired Sept. 1. Salary and length of the work day were the majors issues that had stalled talks to the point of requiring federal mediation two weeks ago. Teachers will receive step increases each year as had been negotiated in their previous contract, plus a .5 percent increase in the second year and a 1 percent in the third.

Clerical workers and school aides received a two-year deal with increases of actual dollar amounts per employee based in years of service and employment classification.

Whereas the September meeting was packed with employees over concerns of stalled talks for both unions, just one teacher attended Monday’s meeting.

In other business, board members approved: