RAEFORD — The Hoke County Board of Education met Tuesday, October 11, where they were given the results of their 2021-22 audit, as well as updates on a child nutrition bid as well as a new grant.
The board was delivered the findings of their 2021-22 financial audit and approved it as presented.
“Overall, the audit went very well,” said Dale Smith, CPA of Anderson Smith & Wike PLLC. “We were very happy with everything that we saw and the testing that we performed. We thank Ms. Chavis and her staff, who continue to do an outstanding job of managing the finances of the district. The district’s finances are very transparent, and anything that can be asked for or any backup documents that we asked for could be provided.”
According to Smith, the district had total assets of $3,158,915 as of June 30, 2022, which was composed primarily of cash and cash equivalents, which amounted to $3,142,338. The district had total liabilities of $1,862,980, and the assets minus the liabilities gave the district a fund balance, as of June 30, of $1,295,935.
“This amount represents an increase of approximately $194,000 over the amount that was reported in the prior year, and most of the districts that we’ve audited so far this year and last year have seen their fund balances increase primarily due to all the COVID funding that has flowed through the districts,” Smith said. “As I mentioned to you all last year, with the uncertainties of the economy and where we are right now, we feel like it’s a very good and very wise budgeting strategy to try and build up your fund balance as much as you can right now. A lot of calls are going to be going up; you have the minimum wage increases, retirement rates seem to go up every year, and healthcare costs go up every year. So again, we feel like it’s very wise to try and build up that fund balance as much as you can here and these years leading up to the expiration of that federal COVID funding which I think is supposed to happen two years from now.”
Along with the financial audit, the firm performed compliance audits of the state and federal grants received by the district, as well as tested a significant amount of payroll and general disbursement transactions as part of those audits.
“We’re happy to report that all three of these letters are clean reports, which means there were no internal control weaknesses, findings, or questionable costs reflected in any of these letters,” Smith said. “We also performed a good bit of testing on the individual schools, and there were no significant issues that were noted in that testing. Overall, it appears that the school bookkeepers are doing a good job.”
The board then approved the renewal of a contract with Darryl’s Gourmet Specialities.
“We’ve been dealing with this company for some years now, and Mr. Darryl Campbell was our vendor, and he passed away suddenly. And so it took them some time going through his estate and all that to get the company back together,” said Executive Director for Child Nutrition Deborah Carpenter. “So they’re back together now, so we have enough product to carry us through, and then they also donated product to help get us through. They have submitted their bid, and this is Darryl’s Gourmet Specialties out of Eastover. This product does meet the USDA requirement for seasonings of our food. It’s less sodium, and all of the other criteria is met, and they are one of the very few companies in this area that we can use.”
Finally, the board accepted a $1.6 million DoDea Grant that focuses on literacy.
“We have been awarded another DoDea Grant,” said Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum/PreK-5th Dawn Ramseur. “With each DoDea grant, we have a name, and the name for this one is F.R.E.S.H. Reads: Facilitating Reading for Every Student in Hoke County. This is actually our first reading grant through DoDea. Typically our grants have been STEM grants, and there is a STEM component to this grant, but it is really devoted to literacy. It is our third active DoDea grant.”
According to Ramseur, the grant supports students from elementary through high school through clubs, project-based learning modules, and reading camps focused on research-based strategies and building relationships around books.
“The idea behind F.R.E.S.H. Reads is offering an opportunity for our students to do some in-school, some after school, some during the summer, some before-school activities around literacy,” Ramseur said. “Promoting reading as a life skill for learning and pleasure.”
The goals of the grant are to leverage the media center as a hub of the school and community, teach staff how to use the media center to its full potential, engage students multidisciplinary through STEM, CTE, and the Arts and Humanities, and increase books available to students according to Ramseur.
The Hoke County Schools Board of Education will next meet November 8.