Franklin school board lowers superintendent’s spending limit

Published 1:23 pm Saturday, February 4, 2017

Franklin’s school board voted unanimously to reduce the amount of money the division’s superintendent is allowed to spend without board approval during a special called meeting of the board, held Thursday at 6 p.m. in the school board office of city hall.

The new spending limit has not yet been finalized but, according to board Chairman Bob Holt, it will be significantly lower than the $60,000 previous boards had allowed the superintendent to spend. The $60,000 limit was also right at the maximum the Virginia Department of Education allowed for a superintendent to spend without board approval.

The board also discussed the report prepared by Minor and Associates PLLC, which Franklin’s city council had asked the auditing firm to prepare in October 2016 for the purpose of reviewing the five concerns the city’s fiscal 2014-2015 comprehensive annual financial report had identified pertaining to the internal controls of Franklin City Public Schools.

“There are some recommendations in there which we will definitely follow up and put into practice,” Holt said.

The report by Minor and Associates recommended FCPS change its accounting procedures to:

  • require a second signature of approval from the director of human resources and administrative services or the coordinator of finance on all purchase orders and/or vendor invoices for purchases made by the office of the superintendent;
  • amend the school board’s policy and procedures to expressly prohibit personal expenditures on school division purchase cards;
  • continue requiring purchase orders for acquisition of goods and services but allow routine, ongoing maintenance expenses under $2,500 such as utilities, maintenance contracts on existing equipment and software, and debt service/lease payments to be paid directly, and ensure that school staff processing vendor invoices for payment be trained to ensure that purchases not meeting an allowable exception include a reference to or a copy of the purchase order;
  • include year-to-date spending as a percentage of the total appropriation in financial reports using the same metric for at least the previous fiscal year, have the school’s coordinator of finance compile a line-by-line budget projection at the end of the second and third quarters of the fiscal year for review with the superintendent and presentation to the school board, and to scrutinize revenue and expenditure forecasts performed during the development of a proposed budget for future years and eliminate over-budgeted revenues not actually received by the division or not reasonably expected to be received by the school division from the proposed budget;
  • and to amend the procurement section of the school board policy manual to include provisions for emergency and sole-source procurements as allowed by the Virginia Public Procurement Act, have finance and administrative staff attend training on the VPPA, have an employee designated as the division’s purchasing agent, who would have responsibility for the proper procurement of goods and services in compliance with the VPPA, and have the coordinator of finance approve all purchase orders prior to final approval to ensure sufficiency of funds and make him/her aware of pending large purchases for projection purposes.

The board also began the planning process for the division’s fiscal year 2017-2018 budget and began reformatting their method for keeping board financial records.

“It’s going to be much more detailed; the board will get much more detail than they’ve gotten in the past, and a comparison to where they were last year at the same time,” Holt said.

The board concluded by approving a robotics field trip in April to Richmond where 12 students will participate in a three-day competition. Five teachers and parents will also attend.

On Monday, the board will hold another called meeting at 11 a.m. in the school board office in city hall to discuss its superintendent search. The meeting will be open to the public.