Polk gives school system $500k

Published 11:04 pm Thursday, January 2, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Money granted to replenish school’s fund balance

COLUMBUS—The Polk County Board of Commissioners came to the rescue in last month by granting the school system an additional $500,000 to replenish its depleting fund balance. 

Commissioners met in December and heard from Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene about the issues the school system’s budget is currently facing. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Greene said the school’s fund balance is critically low. He said the school system tries to keep its fund balance over $1 million and the true money the school has now in its fund balance is only about $300,000. 

“Having a fund balance that low is actually very scary,” Greene said. He said at least three districts in the state have no fund balance currently and their county has no fund balance. 

Greene explained the reasons the school’s fund balance is low this year. He explained that the state is not giving as much per student than they got in 2007. Polk Schools had a water leak at Tryon and the school system still does not know what its budget is from the state this year. 

Greene said the state provides 70 percent of the school budget and last year the school system was still waiting on more than $200,000 in Medicaid reimbursements from two years ago. 

There was also $110,000 removed months after the fiscal year started for a mental health grant. 

He asked the county for $500,000 to replenish the fund balance to get the school system back to about $750,000. The money is needed for food service and capital improvements. 

Commissioner vice chair Tommy Melton said there is nothing more important than our children. 

“It bothers me and it embarrasses me that you have to come here and ask for money,” Melton said. “The state is not taking care of our school system. It’s falling back on the county. I really believe you need to have $1 million (in fund balance).” 

Melton motioned to give the school system $750,000. 

He said the county has a 36 percent fund balance, meaning it has a little over $11 million in savings. 

Commissioner chair Myron Yoder spoke of having three of his children go through Polk County Schools and how successful they are now because of Polk County Schools. 

Melton’s motion for $750,000 died for lack of a second. 

Commissioner Ray Gasperson motioned to give the school system $500,000, which was approved unanimously. 

Yoder thanked Melton for his motion and said the $500,000 was already in the works. He said he does not think any commissioner is against giving the school board money and spoke of the importance of children’s education. Yoder also said he values the relationship between commissioners and the superintendent and school board and said not all counties across the state have that relationship.