November 8, 2012
The Albemarle County School Board is sitting on a growing pot of cash and controversy is brewing over who should get it. School officials say the available fund balance should reach nearly six million dollars this year, that's as much as four percent of the district's annual operating budget.
"Despite the hard years we have had and because of our conservative spending, that fund balance has accumulated significantly," said Steve Koleszar, chairman of the county school board.
In a joint meeting between school board members and county supervisors Thursday, Chief Operating Officer Josh Davis laid out the school board's proposal for how to allocate the funds. Under the plan, the school district would keep the first two percent of the fund balance and any additional funds from that balance would be split 60-40 with the school district taking sixty percent.
County supervisors disagreed with that proposal, saying the school district doesn't need to sit on that much cash. Supervisors agree the nearly two and a half million dollars in question could be put to better use immediately.
"We have lots of capital needs that have piled up very fast during the three years we put zero pennies into capital in the budget," said Ann Mallek, chair of the board of supervisors. "In order to try to start nibbling away at some of those dire capital needs we need to have our money working for us as well as we can."
Both sides agree to meet separately before coming back to the table with new proposals and hopefully, a compromise.
"The most important thing in this county is the education of our kids, and us fighting with the board of supervisors doesn't help us educate kids," said Koleszar. "I'm a great believer that we should be able to strongly disagree and argue about things but once the decision is made we're going to live with it and accept it and work with it."