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ABSS to use $250K in emergency county funding for utilities – rather than preventing RIF


Alamance-Burlington school officials said Tuesday that a $250,000 lifeline that Alamance County’s commissioners agreed to give ABSS just last week – to stave off a potential  Reduction-in-Force (RIF) – will instead be used for utility bills that are part of an overall $3.2 million deficit in the school system’s finances (see related story, this edition).

ABSS chief finance officer Kim McVey told school board members during their latest work session Tuesday afternoon that she’s is projecting that the school system will end the 2023-24 fiscal year on June 30 with a $3.2 million deficit, which includes the $250,000 in additional county funding that the commissioners offered last week.

One of the biggest drivers behind the projected deficit, the CFO said, is an unanticipated spike in utility costs.  McVey said she had budgeted $3.3 million for utility costs for the current fiscal year, and $1.9 million has been spent to date.

ABSS deputy superintendent Lowell Rogers attributed much of the increase in utility costs to the need to run dehumidifiers throughout the school system.

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Following the discovery of mold contamination at 33 ABSS facilities late last summer, the school system spent $23.1 million for mold remediation and indoor air testing, as well as $3.9 million to rent and purchase dehumidifiers to mitigate building moisture that plays into microbial growth.

“It was that extra utility cost [to run dehumidifiers],” Rogers told the board Tuesday.  “That stopped around the end of October, but the systems [are] continuing to run to ensure that moisture level doesn’t get too high within our buildings” He said that the dehumidifiers, which ABSS chief operations officer Greg Hook has previously said are in storage, will be brought back into schools starting next month and will run through the early fall.

School board member Ryan Bowden asked McVey whether the $3.3 million she’d budgeted for this fiscal year included the utilities for Southeast High School, which opened in August.

“No,” the CFO confirmed.  “That is a factor in these increased costs, as well.”  So far, ABSS has spent about $160,000 on utilities at the new high school, McVey said.

Alamance County commissioner Craig Turner confirmed for The Alamance News Wednesday morning that the motion that the commissioners approved 5-0 at their February 5 meeting was to allocate $250,000 from the county’s general fund to “forestall a reduction in force.”

The motion that Turner had introduced, and which passed unanimously, also stipulated that, if the “money is not used for that purpose, but is used for something else or not used at all,” the commissioners would then deem the $250,000 as an advance for next year’s budget.

Earlier coverage of the commissioners’ action:

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