Audit paints healthier financial picture

Published 12:28 pm Thursday, January 8, 2009

WINDSOR – The school system was down to $25,000 in fund balance just a few short years ago.

In January of 2006, Gerrelene Walker stood before the Bertie County Board of Education to reveal the district’s undesignated fund balance had dropped to an unacceptable level.

“I nearly had a heart attack when I figured your fund balance,” Walker noted of the net $25,178 in that account when speaking to the board in 2006. “Because of that low fund balance, the LGC (Local Government Commission) will be monitoring your situation.”

Monday night, Walker was back before the Bertie County Board of Education. Three new board members and a different Superintendent of Schools were in front of her when she reported a healthier financial status.

Walker’s audit of the 2007-2008 fiscal year revealed a closing fund balance of 1.4 million.

“It wasn’t long ago that your fund balance was $25,000,” Walker noted. “You should commend (Finance Officer) Pearline Bunch and her staff for the work they’ve done.”

Board Chairman Rickey Freeman, who is one of only two members that were on the board in 2006, said he was pleased with the audit and the information that it contained.

“We were very pleased with the increase in the fund balance,” Freeman said. “It shows if you are a good steward of your money, you can accomplish things and save money at the same time. It gives us some backup funding for hard times like we are in now with the economy.

“We haven’t come across any large pot of money, just doing a good job of using our money wisely,” he added. “We want the money to benefit students and we think we’re doing a good job of that.”

Walker also informed the board that no findings were noted in the audit, giving the school district a clean bill of financial health.

Later in the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Chip Zullinger, commended Bunch and her staff for their diligence in overseeing the school system finances.

Board member Pamela Chamblee also expressed her appreciation for the work done in the finance office.

“I remember reading there was only $25,000 in the fund balance,” said the district’s newest board member. “With money you can do things and I already have a wish list.”

Board member Alton H. Parker also expressed his appreciation for the work done to get the school system on firm standing financially.

“Pearline, Dr. Z, I commend you again,” he said. “We have several projects that need to get done and we’ll have the money to do them now.”