Record reserve funding may go quickly, thanks to ESSER’s end

Haleyville City Schools Chief Financial Officer Candy Marbutt goes over figures with the board of education during a working session. Also shown is Haleyville School Board President Boo Haughton.

HALEYVILLE     - Although education officials are excited over the record amount of reserve funding on hand for Haleyville City Schools, they are being advised the money will be spent quickly on major needs of the system, while ESSER funds will be depleted by 2024.  
Haleyville City Schools boasts of 4.01 months of reserve on hand for the year, according to Candy Marbutt, HCS chief school financial officer, addressing board of education members during a recent working session.
 “That is the highest we have had in quite some time,”  Marbutt pointed out.
Schools are required to have one month of reserve on hand, officials said.
Monies counted into that include ESSER, which is Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, provided for educational resources through federal stimulus bills.
Congress in 2020 and 2021 passed three stimulus bills that provided $190.5 billion to ESSER, which were primarily relief funds provided in sight of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When we got that Advancement in Technology Plus (money), we intentionally held that, so we haven’t spent much of that,” stated Superintendent Dr. Holly Sutherland.
The school received $937,724 in Advancement in Technology Plus funding for FY 2023, according to Marbutt.
Those funds are being used for instructional supplies, classroom equipment, technology and deferred maintenance, Marbutt said.
“We did that last year...that this was a very lean time, after we get everything closed out in October, so we did want to make sure that money, we did not really use and distribute until after the first of the year when we got into our budget and knew exactly where things were going,” Sutherland said.
“We’re spending that much slower than what we have in the past,” she added.
“Dr. Sutherland, let me ask you a question,” noted board president Boo Haughton. “At any point in time, will the state send you a year end report that shows where your school system, our school system, ranks as it pertains to actual month on hand, where that 4.01 (months in reserve) ranks among all schools our size.
“That is huge,” Haughton further pointed out.
“It is pretty significant,” Sutherland agreed.
“I think it’s good to be cautious like we have been,” board member Donna Jones added. “It makes you kind of leery about the ESSER funds depleting.”
Marbutt responded, “Every year they send this big district spreadsheet, and it has all these  tabs on it”
“I’d like to know what it is, because I think it’s a very good P-R (public relation) type of situation,” Haughton stated.
“I have never seen one that just does months on hand,” responded Marbutt.
Jones stated outside educational sources have been impressed with the amount of financial reserves HCS keeps on hand.
“Financials are running fabulously,” Haughton pointed out. “For a non revenue-producing entity, you’re up...”
“Because of all the great things our schools are doing,” Sutherland interjected, “I think it’s important to also say we have a ton of community support, that supports projects that we are not having to pay for  locally.
“Because we do great things and people want to be involved, a lot of things that other schools may be having to pay for locally,  we have some great partnerships that are helping us with that,” Sutherland pointed out. “It does take a lot off the bottom line as well.”



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