Bertie County Schools in 'significant financial distress,' state report finds

Posted May 3

— Bertie County Schools, a small school district in the northeastern part of the state, is in "significant financial distress," according to a report presented to the State Board of Education Wednesday.

The district's "lack of financial management and oversight" has resulted in a deficit of more than $700,000 in the general fund and more than $135,000 in the restricted fund, the report found.

The school system has replaced its superintendent and finance officer and plans to reduce its staff by more than 6 percent next school year to help save money. It has also implemented a spending and hiring freeze and has begun collecting unrecognized revenue, including four years of sales tax refunds.

"They have made great strides," said Alexis Schauss, director of school business administration for the state Department of Public Instruction. "They’ve kind of stopped the bleeding."

Schauss said the district, which has nine schools, has been in financial decline for three years but the problems weren't discovered until a new auditor looked at the school system's finances.

Bertie County school leaders are asking the State Board of Education to allow them five years to get back into good financial standing and to approve their financial recovery plan.

"For Bertie County to correct that in one year would be disabling for them," Schauss told state board members Wednesday. The district needs time "to get themselves out of the hole."

The state board is expected to vote on the matter in June.


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