By Andy Ann
On Tuesday, Jan. 10 the Colleton County School District (CCSD) and the board held its meeting in the board room located at 500 Forest Circle to discuss some business of education.
During the meeting, it was mentioned that the “board budget report” indicated that the “purchase services” are 257% over budget. School board member Daryl Erwin inquired about Prismatic Services which was included in the report as an expense under “purchase services.” CCSD has a contract with Prismatic Services, relating to a salary study, reportedly being paid roughly $4,800 per month. He wanted to know more about why it was still a monthly expense. CCSD personnel stated it was because it was board approved.
Superintendent Dr. Vallerie Cave explained how Prismatic Services spent numerous hours working with transportation with the routing software. Prismatic Services is currently enrolled in the class with transportation. Prismatic personnel meet with Cave on a monthly basis while spending hours working with staff or principals. Cave stated she receives an update and status report monthly about the projects that Prismatic is working on. She also stated that their contract will be ending soon, possibly in May.
Cave also shared that Prismatic has provided several recommendations after looking internally at the district’s needs. Some recommendations have been implemented and are going well while there are still others needed to make improvements. When those recommendations were presented to the board, the former board voted for the consulting firm to continue aiding the district with the implementation of those recommendations.
Cave stated since the Board requested and approved the salary study, all the expenses that came with the salary study were paid for by the board. Witkin said, “Yes, you came to the board and asked that of the board. The board ultimately approved it, but that was for guidance and supplemental help with regard to the salary study for the administration. The board didn’t get anything else. We didn’t get consulted. And so, for it to be under ‘purchasing services’ for the board seems misappropriated.” Witkin went on the express her concern in seeing the excess budget of these line items over budget and it is only January.
Cave responded that they could look at a different source to help pay for that continued expense and that the original expense was not misappropriated. She explained that the expense was placed into board funds because that is where the salary study came from.
Barrett explained how each source of funding must be spent according to given specifications and that quarterly reports must be submitted to the state. Once a state-approved budget is set, the state gives the approval for how the money can be used. Barrett also stated that the district is audited on a regular basis and guidelines must be adhered to and signed by the superintendent to use after state approval is given.
Barrett also provided greater detail how other specific sources of funding and the required processes must be followed in order to use the monies allocated. She also explained that many of those same sources are not required to go through the procurement process and the reasons why.
Barrett stated each department determines how they spend their monies. The departments dictate how they set it up and their bookkeeper monitors it. The finance department is the “oversight” for each department, making sure the rules are followed.
Barrett stated that Finance does not move any department funds around. If a department is over budget, they need to report it. She also stated that each department is supposed to be looking at its report monthly.
Barrett said that she tells each department to look over their monthly budget and not to exceed it because she cannot adjust any budgets. She also recommended to the board that an estimation of what will be needed for next year’s budget because the current set budget has not been changed for several years.
More updates in the “Business of Education Series” will be provided in the next issue. For more information call 843-782-4510.
The Press and Standard will be presenting an educational series with a weekly column breaking down each of the department reports. While helping provide the minutes of the meeting as a source of information for the community.
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