An accounting error has led to an unexpected windfall for Dinwiddie schools.
A routine audit uncovered an extra $1.5 million in unbudgeted funds in the school district's budget. The district recently closed a middle school and eliminated staff positions to cut costs, because officials believed they were facing a $4.2 million budget shortfall.
The Bill Haney, Chairman of the Dinwiddie County School Board, calls the accounting error an "unexpected windfall."
The School Board voted to close Dinwiddie Middle School in May, forcing 680 students to be filtered into the county's junior and senior high schools. The consolidation was expected to save the district around $800,000. The school was formerly the first black high school in the county and the district formed a committee to decide how to repurpose the building.
Retired teacher Legert Hamilton led a crusade to try and keep Dinwiddie Middle School open this year. He collected more than 900 signatures to petition school board leaders from closing the historic school as a cost-cutting measure.
"It really didn't make a difference. They had already made their mind up," Hamilton said. "That was the only school left for black students to attend back during segregation."
The $1.5 million influx wasn't anticipated when the decision to close the school was made.
"We knew we were going to have savings. We did not anticipate the savings were going to be this high," says Superintendent David Clark.
He says $750,000 was from money the district had from last year's budget year that wasn't properly calculated into the current budget. The excess funds he says comes from extra savings the district didn't anticipate like lower fuel costs, donations, and an unexpected bump in sales tax revenue.
"It's unfortunate that we made a decision to close a school because we wanted to save money, but yet we had money," Hamilton said.
It is unclear if the schools will get the money back. Haney says the money will go back to the county to then determine how it is spent.
Though the superintendent admits this extra money was a surprise he wasn't so quick to call this discovery a mistake.
The district's Accounting Director met with the Superintendent and County Administrator Tuesday to discuss if anyone will be held accountable for the accounting mix-up, but the Superintendent doesn't expect any disciplinary action will be taken.
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