The Cumberland County School System spent $4.7 million in August, including $2.3 million in payroll for its regular instruction program. 

That monthly spending is more than the ending fund balance in the school system’s 2019-’20 budget, which leaves $1.9 million in the general fund balance, just over the required 3% reserve the state requires. However, the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office noted the concern in a letter to the Cumberland County Commission.

“The Office of State and Local Finance has determined that the county’s budget meets basic statutory requirements, but we have detected a challenge … that could possibly lead to financial problems in the future,” the Sept. 19 letter reads. 

Kacee Harris, chief financial officer for the school system, told the Cumberland County Board of Education, “While the general purpose school fund was in compliance, they had noticed we were continuing to budget more expenditures than revenue coming in, which leads to a decreasing fund balance.”

The letter states the school system appears to have sufficient funds in reserve to remain balanced. But they asked the county finance department to provide the county commission with an updated cash flow analysis showing actual expenditures and revenue from the prior month and any changes in forecasted data, and to present a budget-to-actual report for the fund.

The school system’s revenue through the end of August is $4.6 million, with the bulk of the funds coming from the state’s Basic Education Program payments. Those payments began in August and are received 10 months over the year. The school system budgeted $34.3 million in BEP revenue for 2019-’20, with an annual budgeted revenue of $55.6 million. 

The school system has also received $870,572 in sales tax revenue against a budget of $10.1 million. 

The school system has spent $6.9 million in this budget year. That includes salaries and benefits for faculty and staff, its annual building and contents insurance premium, and approximately $72,000 in principal and interest on debt payments. 

The system started the year with a $5.7 million fund balance. The fund balance can be used for one-time projects and capital expenses, like building construction or buying school buses. Projects included in this year’s budget include a renovation at Martin Elementary, construction of a Transition Academy facility at The Phoenix School and upgrades at Stone Memorial High School to comply with federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Many of those projects will be paid for later in the budget, however, allowing the school system to use the fund balance to provide cash flow during the early part of the budget year, before local property tax is received. 

In other business, the board approved the following consent agenda items:

•Volunteers at Cumberland County High School, Pine View Elementary, Stone Elementary, Stone Memorial High School, South Cumberland Elementary, North Cumberland Elementary, Homestead Elementary, Martin Elementary and Crab Orchard Elementary, countywide volunteers and elementary sports volunteers

•Disposal of surplus property at Martin Elementary, South Cumberland Elementary, Stone Elementary, Homestead Elementary, federal programs, food service and special education department

•Overnight and out-of-state field trip for the SMHS soccer team to compete in the Southern Coast Cup Tournament in Foley, AL, April 1-4, 2020

•Overnight field trip for the SMHS Choir Nov. 11-12 to attend the Middle Tennessee Regional Honor Chorus in Franklin, TN, an overnight field trip to East Nashville Magnet High School Nov. 15 for the Young Women in Song & Harmony music festival, and an overnight trip April 16-18

•Overnight field trip for the North Cumberland and Stone Elementary Junior Beta Clubs to attend the state convention Nov. 23-25

•Overnight field trip for South Cumberland Elementary Beta Club Nov. 23-26 to attend the state convention and participate in a service reward to visit nearby attractions

•Overnight field trip for the CCHS Beta Club to attend the state convention Nov. 21-23

•Overnight and out-of-state field trip for Stone Elementary sixth- through eighth-grade students to visit Washington, DC, May 13-17

•Overnight and out-of-state field trip for South Cumberland Elementary eighth-grade students to visit Washington, DC, May 5-9

•Schoolwide fundraisers at South Cumberland Elementary, including a book fair Oct. 24-Nov. 1 and March 5-13, Mountain Empire Promotions “Home for the Holidays” sale Sept. 28-Oct. 14, and Reading for Education Jan. 6-17, where ASD Data Services pays the school 50 cents for each name and address collected

•Schoolwide fundraisers at Martin Elementary, including a book fair Oct. 25-Nov. 1 and Feb. 27-March 6, 

•Schoolwide fundraiser at Crab Orchard Elementary in October selling candy and pretzels

•Schoolwide fundraiser for Pine View Elementary with Moore Fundraising to sell the World’s Finest Chocolate and Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough.

•Grant application to The Guitar Center Music Foundation from Pleasant Hill Elementary

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at

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