The Arkansas State Board of Education voted to place the Guy-Perkins School District on the fiscal distress list on Thursday after tabling the item last month.
Superintendent Brian Cossey argued against placing the district in financial distress before the board during its meeting in Little Rock.
He pointed out that the district’s unrestricted balance over the past six years, other than a peak a few years ago because of a boom in the gas and shale industry in the area, was mostly unchanged.
"We’re back to the same point where we were six years ago," he said.
He added that in the past five years, the district has twice refunded bonds that resulted in savings. The district is seeking an opinion from the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office to see if it can re-categorize that money if it forfeits bond-debt assistance.
If it can, that would improve the district’s unrestricted balance, he said.
"I realize that’s a one-time shot, but that’s all we need," Cossey said, noting that $30,000-$40,000 makes "a tremendous difference" in a budget of the district’s size. At last count, there were 403 kids enrolled in the district.
Cossey said companies that were delinquent on their taxes and spending more than $150,000 to prepare for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing also contributed to the declining balance.
"I’m not saying we didn’t need technology, but we didn’t need $151,000 of it," he said, noting that the state is considering scrapping the PARCC.
Eric Saunders, fiscal and administrative services assistant commissioner, praised Cossey’s efforts, but recommended the board place the district on the fiscal distress list.
"I commend Mr. Cossey on his initiative," Saunders said. "He has valid points, but it is in the best interest for recommendation of fiscal distress."
Saunders said the district would need a $115,000 adjustment next year "just to continue at the same pace that it’s currently going."
The board voted 6-2 to place the district on the fiscal distress list.
Cossey said the Guy-Perkins Board of Education would meet and that he anticipates "going after a millage" during the annual school elections in September.
(Staff writer Jeanette Anderton can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1212. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to thecabin.net. Send us your news at thecabin.net/submit)