Chambers County School District finances looking good, says CFO

Published 8:00 am Saturday, October 30, 2021

At the Chambers County School Board meeting on Wednesday, Chief Financial Officer Cassandra Allen said the Chambers County School District is doing well with its finances.

“We are required to have at least one month’s operations expense,” she said. “And we have 2.70 at the end of September 2021. We have budgeted for 2021 to have 2.58, and we actually have a little bit more than that.”

Allen gave credit for this success to money from the CARES Act and to an increase in tax revenue.

“Our summer feeding program continues to do very well,” she said. “For 2021, we had a profit of $74,000 in our summer feeding program.”

Allen said the school system has to meet maintenance of efforts for its special education program, which it was able to do for 2021 without reallocating funds from its general fund for 2021.

“We don’t want to overspend in our general fund, and we can’t underspend in our general fund,” she explained. “We have to meet maintenance of effort. And we’re doing pretty good. We’re at $205 over what we spent last year, which is good. We don’t want to go over too much because each year, we have to spend as much as we spent the prior year to meet maintenance of effort.”

Allen said the school system received $8 million in local government tax dollars, which went into its general fund account for 2021.

She said each year, the school system is required to help fund the Child Nutrition Program.

“Based on calculations, we were required to pass through $976,000 to CNP,” she said. “We have, as of Sept. 30, passed through $732,663 to CNP. We’re going to ask to retain $244,000 into our general fund because CNP, they’re able to sustain … and have 1.24 months of operating expense in their operating account. So as long as they’re able to have over one month of operating expense, then we can ask to retain those funds in our general fund.”

In other business at the meeting, Director of Transportation Benji Mitchum gave a report on CCSD buses.

“We had zero injuries for students or staff or anybody outside, any kind of accidents related to school buses in the past year,” Mitchum said. “And we’ve had zero injuries now for going on ten years.”

Mitchum explained that CCSD has 10 new buses it’s been using this school year that have stop-arm cameras. These cameras have resulted in multiple tickets for people running school bus stop signs.

“We have six more buses that are on order that will be in this coming up school year, and those will also be equipped with stop-arm cameras,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to transition to all of our school buses having stop-arm cameras on them so that we can better catch those people that are running the stop-arms to keep our kids safer when getting on and off the school bus.”

Mitchum said CCSD aims to have all of its route buses be under 10 years old so they can be fully funded by the state.

He said CCSD buses travel an average of about 60,000 miles per month.

“On a daily basis, we transport an average of 1,363 students around Chambers County for our morning and evening routes,” he said. “We transport an additional 640 students for career tech and gifted and special needs.”

Superintendent Casey Chambley said CCSD has been short on bus drivers for the past year or so.

“It’s not normal that the transportation director has to drive a bus,” Chambley said. “But there are many days and many routes that you look, and Mr. Mitchum’s driving a bus because we don’t have enough bus drivers.”

Chambley thanked Mitchum for his hard work.