By MELINDA WILLIAMS
The Massie District representative on Pulaski County Board of Supervisors says he supports recent changes within the school administration and hopes “they’ll be able to put their financial house in order” as a result.
“The school board has taken the difficult task of encouraging the former superintendent (Dr. Robert Becker) to leave,” Supervisor Andy McCready said in a statement unrelated to items on Monday night’s agenda. Supervisors are given an opportunity at the end of each meeting to bring up any topic they desire.
McCready continued, “According to a number of sources, this was at considerable cost to Pulaski County. I want to be clear that I support the Pulaski County School Board in this action.”
He also expressed concern that the school system’s final budget surplus was over $1 million more than the $250,000 supervisors were told it would be during budget talks in February.
“It is my understanding the school system would have finished the (2011-12) school year with a budget surplus of $1.3-$1.7 million,” McCready said. “Reportedly at the direction of the former superintendent, central office staff was instructed (around the end of June) to ‘go spend money.’ Fortunately, some of this money did make its way to fund a new telephone system for (both middle schools) at a cost $268,000.”
McCready will not name his source for the information he cited, but indicated it came from within the central office, not the “local rumor mill.”
He said it is “of great concern” to him that what was estimated to the supervisors to be a $250,000 carryover ended up being “$1-plus million” by the end of the school year.
“As you know, this board struggled mightily at budget time with the request from the school system that they needed between $1.9 and $2.2 million,” McCready told his fellow supervisors. “In fact, it was called upon this board to raise county taxes six cents on the hundred. As you know, we refused that and managed to find the budget needs without raising taxes.”
He continued, “The lesson that needs to be learned from this should be clear. Financial numbers given to this board need to be true and correct. For me to support school funding and school construction projects, I must have true, accurate financial numbers at all times.
“I wish the new school administration – the new school superintendent, (Dr. Thomas Brewster) – all the best of luck as he begins to tackle and provide guidance to the county school system,” he said.
Stressing that he is speaking on his own behalf and not on behalf of the other supervisors, McCready added that the school board and board of supervisors have important projects facing them in coming years.
“I hope and trust that we will always receive the most true and accurate financial numbers at all times. Working between the school board and the supervisors requires a high level of trust and confidence in the numbers that we receive. I look forward to working with our school board as we continue down this path,” he concluded.