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Audit shows District Three’s largest fund balance in 18 years

November 17, 2018

LAKE CITY, S.C. – Florence County School District Three Superintendent Laura Hickson said the district’s current fund balance is higher than it has been in 18 years.

Jim Lawrimore of the Lawrimore & Lawrimore certified public accounting firm presented the district’s audit report at a school board meeting Thursday evening. The board voted to approve the audit after his presentation.

As of June 30, 2018, Lawrimore said the district’s fund balance was $2,405,000. He said the balance is up drastically.

According to a news release from the district, a state law was passed in 2017 that requires school districts to have a fund balance of at least 8.33 percent of the current year’s expenditures.

“So stay away from the 8.33 percent,” Lawrimore said at Thursday’s meeting. “We were under that last year. We had a finding. This year, the $2.4 million is 9.1 percent of the general fund expenditures.”

The district’s food service fund has also increased. According to the statement of revenues, expenditures and changes in fund balances presented to the board by Lawrimore, the district’s Food service fund balance was $407,887 on July 1, 2017. On June 30, 2018, the food service fund balance was $662,747.

“It’s a major turnaround and the first time it’s really done, it’s had enough money to pay its indirect, it’s fridge and enough money that it will be able to buy equipment and upgrade any equipment it needs,” Lawrimore said.

In his presentation, Lawrimore said a little more than 50 percent of the districts funds go to face-to-face instruction. Approximately two-thirds of programs expenses are in salaries and benefits.

Hickson said shortly after officially starting her position as superintendent in July 2015, she learned that the 2015-2016 general fund budget was balanced with a fund balance that did not exist, which led to a deficit at the end of 2015-2016 school year.

“After developing a three-year plan to address the deficit under the direction of Dr. John Thames, a financial consultant hired by the district, and making key changes in the finance department, the district was able to eliminate the deficit in one year and completed the 2016-2017 school year with a $257,881 fund balance,” Hickson said through a news release. “The district and schools pulled together as a team to continue to implement the district financial corrective action plan, and the results have been positive and huge.”

Florence County School District Three board chairperson Barbary Singletary-Bryant said Thursday that she thinks the district has made great gains.

“We have a ways to go, but we are making improvements, so that’s a good thing,” Singletary-Bryant said. “And I attribute that to Mrs. Hickson and the staff for doing all that they’re doing to get to where we need to be.”

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