CCPS dips into fund balance for deferred maintenance projects
— Cecil County Public Schools has dipped into its fund balance in order to fund about half a million dollars in emergency repairs and deferred maintenance projects that can no longer be delayed.
During a presentation Monday, Perry Willis, executive director of support services, and Chief Financial Officer Tom Kappra presented the board of education with a list of projects and equipment totaling $498,163 that they proposed to fund out of the system’s fund balance. The projects include emergency repairs to the chillers at two different schools, a paving project and intercom upgrades at two schools.
Separately, officials also presented a list of a few other projects they plan to fund using money saved through energy conservation and through fees collected as part of the new community use program, where outside organizations are charged for using school facilities. These projects include tennis court fencing at two schools, two lighting
projects and the installation of a duct sock and venting in the North East High School gym.
While many of the projects being financed through the fund balance are emergency repairs, others are part of the school’s growing list of deferred maintenance projects.
“It’s slow going when it’s $49 million (in deferred maintenance),” Superintendent D’Ette Devine said. “These (projects) will either pay dividends in terms of savings or they are absolutely necessary repairs to make.”
Typically, CCPS would wait until later in the year and see if the funds for these projects could be found elsewhere in the budget, but Kappra said that because of the significant amount of funds needed it was important to get these projects “on the books” now.
The biggest use of the fund balance will go toward emergency chiller repairs at the Bohemia Manor High School and Middle School complex and the Cecil County School of Technology. Those repairs and temporary chiller rentals cost $100,863 at Bo Manor and $144,425 at CCST. The school board approved bids for those projects back in September.
However, CCPS only had to pull $54,425 from its fund balance for the CCST project because the school system had already budgeted $90,000 for repairs to that chiller before realizing the work was more extensive, Kappra said. But, Kappra said on Wednesday that he expects to come back before the board in the coming weeks to get approval for another roughly $40,000 for that project because of a longer-than-anticipated chiller rental period and additional unforeseen repairs.
Another item coming out of the fund balance is a replacement boiler for Gilpin Manor Elementary School at a cost of $24,500. But because a new GMES is currently being built, the replacement boiler will be portable so it can be moved elsewhere once the old school is torn down, Willis said.
The list of fund balance projects also includes $132,000 for a paving project at the George Washington Carver Education Leadership Center, which houses the CCPS central administration offices, $52,875 for intercom upgrades at Rising Sun High School and Elk Neck Elementary School and $40,000 to replace a 35-yearold tractor.
Prior to pulling out the roughly half a million dollars for those projects, CCPS had $2.21 million over the 5 percent required by board policy in its fund balance. This year is the first time since 2013 that the school system’s fund balance has been above that 5 percent cap and while that roughly $2.2 million above the cap may seem like a lot, it goes quickly, Kappra said on Wednesday.
Kappra pointed out that over a previous period of two years, CCPS pulled roughly $7 million from that account. CCPS is also trying to keep extra money in that account for anticipated future needs, Kappra said, noting that the school system’s enrollment may drop again, which would result in a decrease in some of its per pupil state funding.
During Monday’s meeting, school board president Dawn Branch thanked Willis and Kapra for their “fiscal responsibility” and “conservative approach” in finding ways to get the projects done.
“We are able to address needs on this list that otherwise would not be addressed or fixed and the price would have continues to escalate as the years go by,” she said.
Emergency repairs to the air conditioning system at the Cecil County School of Technology was one reason CCPS had to dip into its fund balance this year.