Auditor: Wiscasset schools ‘rock solid’ financially

Thu, 12/16/2021 - 8:45am

    Auditor Ron Smith of RHR Smith & Company gave high marks Dec. 14 to Wiscasset School Department.

    Addressing the school committee, Smith said the department’s carryover balance moved from $1.4 million in 2019 to about $1.3 million in 2020. “The good news is that you guys budgeted for it to go down by almost half a million dollars ... So financially I think that you guys certainly are rock solid.” A big reason is the pandemic started, he said. Tuition dropped, but so did spending, he said. “So overall, your budget was favorable by about $400,000 in 2020.”

    He cautioned, COVID made 2020 a tough year to use as a benchmark, and may for 2021, also. Preliminarily for 2021, however, it looks like Wiscasset schools’ financial condition continues to improve, he added.

    “So I think that that’s great news for the Wiscasset School Department.”

    Smith, on Zoom, told the committee, in facemasks in Wiscasset Middle High School’s library, food service was $12,000 in the hole. An expected $30,000 payment will offset that, department officials said.

    Also Dec. 14, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Terry Wood and WMHS Assistant Principal Warren Cossette said the department is working to update its emergency management plan. The state is requiring it due to COVID, Wood said.

    In the meeting and her superintendent’s report released earlier Dec. 14, Wood said staffing issues continue. “Many of us are covering additional responsibilities and going above and beyond. This continues to be a statewide issue. We are still looking for a permanent (finance) manager,” Wood wrote. Smith said interim finance manager Cathy Coffey is “plowing through the affairs.” That should aid the firm’s work on the next audit, he said.

    Wood said area superintendents are seeking a say in, and hoping for changes to, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s procedures for quarantines. Wood said healthy students are having long and sometimes multiple quarantines.

    Wood announced 2021 Maine School Board Association distinguished service awards for nurses Marilyn Sprague and Sommer Maybee. Wood read aloud the MSBA board’s message thanking them for contact tracing; “steadying guidance;” and their reassurances to parents, staff, administrators and students. “(This) allowed schools to operate at a very high level ...,” Wood read. Committee members and others applauded as Sprague accepted her and Maybee’s awards. 

    The committee meets next on Jan. 11.