Sweet Home School District Shows Fiscal Strength

Kristy Tallman

According to the recently released fiscal year 2023 financial report of the Sweet Home School District (SHSD), the district has shown a strong financial position and responsible management practices despite ongoing challenges.

During their Feb. 12 board meeting, Kevin Strong, Business Manager for the SHSD, presented the audit report, highlighting key findings and milestones.

“First of all, the auditors issue financial statements, reservations. Second, we have the financials for the district. And third, if you look at our outstanding debt, in recorded history, it is now at its lowest level since going back to before he was even on the school board. I think you’re approaching today. So, you know, overall, a bright picture for the district,” Strong stated.

Auditors from Pauly Rogers and Company, including Brad Turano, who was on hand for the meeting, issued a “clean” opinion on the financial statements, affirming the district’s sound financial management with no reservations.

“I just want to say that you guys are in fantastic hands. Your Business department at your district is phenomenal. We asked for a lot of info and documentation during our audits, and everyone was a joy to work with,” said Turano.

Strong reported the District’s General Fund ending balance saw a substantial increase from $4,022,736 on June 30, 2022, to $6,400,054 on June 30, 2023. This ending fund balance now stands at 21.6% of the General Fund’s fiscal year revenues, strategically positioned to sustain programs and staff beyond the expiration of one-time funding from the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund later that year.

Strong emphasized that the increase in the General Fund ending balance to 21.6% of total revenues is not attributable to debt accounting. He clarified that debt is accounted for separately from the general fund balance. The 21.6% figure represents the percentage of the ending fund balance divided by total revenues.

This deliberate strategy, according to Strong, has been in place for at least two decades. He noted that a significant portion of this increase is by design, as the District has received one-time funds over the past few years, which must be expended by Sept. 30 of the current year. In anticipation of this deadline, the District has been actively building its general fund balance to ensure the continued maintenance of staff and programs into the future.

Turano confirmed during the meeting that there were no findings for either the junior high school or the high school this year, indicating improved management of student activity funds.

Furthermore, the District successfully reduced its total outstanding debt by $2,319,358, marking an 11.2% overall reduction while consistently meeting its debt service schedule requirements.

The government-wide financial statements revealed a commendable increase of $6,563,570 in net position, reflecting positive trends in the District’s financial standing. Such improvements served as a key indicator of the District’s overall financial health.

District expenditures remained within authorized appropriations across all areas, underscoring prudent fiscal management and accountability.

In response to evolving financial reporting standards, Strong explained that GASB 96, a Governmental Accounting Standards Board statement, aims to provide guidance on accounting and financial reporting for subscription-based information technology arrangements (SBITAs). GASB 96 took effect for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2022.

In summary, GASB 96 aims to improve financial reporting transparency and comparability for SBITAs across governments.

Despite overall fiscal strength, the report noted specific changes in activity fund balances. The high school activity fund balance experienced a decrease of $32,038, primarily attributed to the expenditure of Cheer Fund balance. Similarly, the junior high school activity fund balance saw a slight decline of $1,261, mainly due to Yearbook Fund and Outdoor Fund expenditures surpassing receipts.

The comprehensive financial statements are available online on the SHSD’s website, providing transparency and accessibility to the community.

Attendance and

Enrollment

During the meeting, Terry Martin, SHSD Superintendent, unveiled the latest enrollment figures, indicating a modest uptick in student numbers. According to Martin, enrollment for the month saw an increase of five students in January. Presently, attendance stands at 2,296 students as of February 2024, marking a notable rise from 2,100 students recorded in February 2021. Martin further highlighted Hawthorne Elementary’s exceptional performance, boasting the highest February attendance rate at an impressive 88%.

For more information and access to the financial statements, visit http://sweethome.k12.or.us/departments/business/.

Next board officers meeting Thursday, February 29, 2024 at 3:30 p.m. Superintendent’s Office C.

Next board meeting Monday, March 11, 2024 at 6:30 p.m. in DO Boardroom.

First budget meeting Monday, May 13, 2024 at 5:00 in the Boardroom.

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