Audit approved by GCMS school board

By ROSS BROWN
bluehavanaross@gmail.com


GIBSON CITY — Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school board members approved 2017 fiscal year audits for the school district and Ford County Special Education Cooperative during their monthly meeting Monday night.

Russ Leigh of Russell Leigh & Associates presented the board with the district’s audit, noting that it was a clean audit without any major problems.

“You’re on the recognition list with the state, which is good,” Leigh said.

Leigh noted that the district’s education fund had a balance of $2.658 million, with a $2,100 increase from last year’s levels.

“The education fund is little lower than anticipated,” Leigh said. “The state says you should have at least six months worth of cash on hand. You’re not quite there yet, but not many districts are.”

Leigh said an additional $450,000 was shown on both expenses and revenue for last year, though the district did not take in or receive that amount. That item, Leigh said, is the amount that the state was supposed to contribute toward GCMS’s portion of the Teachers Retirement System (TRS). Leigh said the state did not contribute much of what it owed, and the number is what the state was expected to pay.

Due to the state not adequately funding TRS for several years, Leigh said the cost might be shifted onto the district in the future.

“Unfortunately, Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly decided to absorb the Chicago pension debt in their new funding formula,” Leigh told the board. “I don’t know how they’re going to be able to cover their debt. That is probably going to get thrown back on you at some point down the road.”

Both Leigh and GCMS Superintendent Jeremy Darnell said the district would have to cover the cost in the future, saying that the state is unreliable.

Darnell said he does not expect the district to cover the cost until further on, though.

“If the costs shift to us, then the state has to contribute a higher percentage, which they do not have,” Darnell said. “It then would become an unfunded liability, and I think there’d be too much debate for a cost shift to happen soon.”

Meanwhile, Leigh said the state’s public school districts would have to increase their fund balances in order to take on the pension contributions.

“The districts that are going to survive are going to be the ones that have a large enough fund balance that they can absorb those pension costs without having to levy a tax,” Leigh said. “I don’t think local taxpayers would want to pay for a $4.6 million levy.”

Leigh said the state fell short funding TRS last year. The overall shortage was $46 million, with GCMS making up $1.6 million of that amount.

The audit also showed a large discrepancy in salaried costs versus benefits. Darnell said the difference was do to staff members taking different insurance levels and some being on different pay scales.

The yearly costs per student increased from $10,414 in 2016 to $10,992 in 2017. Leigh said the district had a lower enrollment, increasing the amount paid toward each pupil.

Other business
Also at the meeting:

➜ The board hired Caity Heap as a volunteer cheerleading coach for the winter sports season.

➜ The board accepted Paula Middendorf’s resignation as lunch clerk and cook, effective Jan. 5.

➜ The board granted an early graduation request for Courtney Burton at the end of the fall 2018 semester.

➜ The board approved a request from GRP Mechanical Company of Bethalto for an employee to submit a 179D federal tax deduction form based on work completed for GCMS. Darnell said it would be of no cost to the district. Darnell said GRP last performed contracting work for the district in 2015.

➜ Board members approved the fiscal year 2018 tax levy, which was unveiled at last month’s meeting.

➜ The board approved its 2018 meeting dates. Regular meetings are on the third Monday of each month, except for June and November, when the board will meet on the fourth and second Mondays, respectively.

➜ Board member Tyler Young was named as a delegate to the Illinois Association of School Boards’ convention on Nov. 18 to cast votes on behalf of the district.

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