Schools receive clean audit

Fulton Public Schools’ fiscal year 2010 audit report revealed good news for the Fulton School Board on Wednesday night.

“The scope was unimpaired and it was a clean opinion,” Director of Community Relations Kathy Wright said Thursday afternoon. “There was nothing under compliance issues.”

Wright said auditor Jim McGinnis highlighted two financial findings for the district, including an $85,000 fund balance improvement over last year.

“We had $695,000 less in revenue due to decreased state funding, but we slashed $724,000 in response, so (the board) did the right thing to stabilize the funds,” Wright reported.

In other business at Wednesday night’s meeting, Superintendent Jacque Cowherd gave an update regarding enrollment projections, which indicates that after several years of declining student numbers, the district is slated to see a population boost by 2013.

“We had been projecting this enrollment decline for several years,” Assistant Superintendent Suzanne Hull said Thursday. “Next year we’ll be at about 2,130, which is about 30 less than what we have currently. After that, we should see an increase again.

“By 2015-16, we should be close to where we were in 2006-07.”

Projected enrollment for 2015-16 is 2,251, much closer to the district’s 2006-07 peak of 2,261 than in recent years.

Hull said the high school has recently seen lower numbers due to fluctuations in population.

“In 2005-06, we had 811 (students) at Fulton High School,” she said. “Following that big bubble, we’ve seen a decline; starting next year we’ll have 618 kids — the lowest number at the high school in a long time.

“The high school is going to see those lower enrollment totals over the next five to six years.”

When the district’s population finally starts to increase in 2013, Hull said it should mean a large financial boost for the district as well.

“It all comes down to state funding. Under the current state funding formula, we get a little over $6,000 per student,” Hull said. “That’s why we’ve been cutting longer than other districts in the area, with our student numbers going down.

“As enrollment increases, we will get more state funding.”

Also Wednesday night, the board heard a brief update on bond-related construction projects.

“We’re currently at about 20 percent under budget with construction compared to where we thought we’d be,” Hull said.

Roof repair and replacement at the middle school and elementary schools, and the district-wide lighting upgrade are up next, with bids set to go out by late and mid-January, respectively. Bathroom renovations at McIntire and Bush elementaries also are set to be bid by mid-January. The middle school girls’ locker room, which Hull noted “has been a long time coming” — will be sent out to bid by mid-February.

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