SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WIS) - South Carolina State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced Wednesday that she’s declared a “fiscal emergency” in the Sumter County School District, due to the body’s “non-compliance with the district’s financial recovery plan and the possibility of further fiscal decline.”
“Decisions that put the financial stability of a school district at risk and put the education of students and tax dollars of the public in jeopardy cannot be tolerated,” Spearman said in the announcement. “The Sumter School Board made a conscientious effort last year to fix the financial crossroads that it found itself in but recent decision making by the Board has undermined that effort. I am committed and bound to intervene through a fiscal emergency to ensure the best interests of the students, parents, and Sumter community are being served. We will work quickly and diligently to move the district in the right direction.”
The fiscal practices legislation requires that the State Superintendent declare a fiscal emergency in five situations:
- Failure to submit an acceptable fiscal caution recovery plan
- Failure to comply with a fiscal caution recovery plan
- Risk of debt default
- Three fiscal years of fiscal watch or caution
- Necessary to correct fiscal problems
In May of 2017, Governor McMaster signed into law legislation creating the Statewide Program on District Fiscal Practices and Budgetary Conditions.
The legislation sets forth escalating levels of fiscal and budgetary concern under which the State Superintendent may or must declare that level of concern and put into place conditions to rectify the district's fiscal and budgetary conditions. The three levels are a fiscal watch, fiscal caution, and fiscal emergency.
On March 19, 2018, the Sumter School District was placed on fiscal caution for failure to meet the Fiscal Year 2016-17 minimum general reserve fund balance.
Spearman’s annoucment continued to say:
In 2017, a consultant was paid $1,000 a day to assess the “widespread overspending" in the school district that led to the discovery of a $6.2 million shortage. After that discovery, the school district approved more than $6.8 million in budget cuts .
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