Washington County Commissioners Deny Board of Education Budget Transfer

By a 3-0 vote, the Washington County Commissioners denied a transfer of funds requested by the county school board expressing concerns over possible reuses of the funds that would be transferred to fund balance.

As reported by the Hagerstown Herald-Mail,

In making the motion, Commissioner Jeffrey A. Cline added a stipulation requiring school officials to gain county approval for any future uses of the $4.4 million toward projects that involve school construction, including the proposed academic hub project in downtown Hagerstown.

“That’s an effort to control a little bit about how this money is going to be spent,” Commissioner Vincent G. “Woody” Spong said after the meeting. “We do have concerns. It wasn’t spent where it was supposed to be, particularly in the instruction areas.”

In defending the transfer, school board officials said the funds were not used in Fiscal 2015 because the chief academic officer left in the middle of the budget year.

“It was determined that funding would be deferred into the coming year for the new team to use for the programs that they’re implementing … rather than to spend it just to spend it at the end of the year,” Deputy Superintendent Boyd Michael told the commissioners. “We felt it would be more prudent to use it once the new team got assembled.”

School board members took the commissioner’s action as an indication they need to have further conversations with them over funding issues.

School Board President Donna Brightman said Tuesday night that she gets a sense that the commissioners’ vote serves as a “symbolic gesture” to school officials that the county board “would like to have a deeper conversation about capital projects.”

“I think it’s really up to us now to find that opportunity to have that conversation with them,” she said.

Although the funding transfer request was denied, funds remaining at the end of a fiscal year are transferred to a school board’s undesignated fund balance.