COPPERAS COVE — Imagine the look on the face of Copperas Cove Independent School District Superintendent Joe Burns when an office assistant said the district had a check for $12.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education.
He knew it was a mistake — sort of.
The money was owed to the district, but it was more than expected — and it came early.
The CCISD school board Tuesday took the money and put more than $1.2 million toward a one-time retention incentive for staff members. The district will pay all full-time employees $1,000 and part-time employees $500.
During the process of closing out the 2016-2017 school year budget and planning for the 2017-2018 school year, there was a great deal of uncertainty regarding a payment for federal Impact Aid, Burns said.
The district had received information from the U.S. Department of Education’s Impact Aid office that approximately $8 million of the district’s payment would be delayed until May or June of 2018.
Based on that information, the district took very aggressive cost-saving measures, including not providing a pay increase for employees in the 2017-2018 school year, to limit the negative financial impact on the district’s fund balance.
After the district had already closed out its 2016-2017 budget year and the budget and tax rate were established for the 2017-2018 school year, CCISD received an unexpected Impact Aid payment of approximately $12.5 million — which was about $4 million more than officials were expecting, and arrived far earlier than the government had projected.
When the district contacted the auditor and inquired about booking the payment, CCISD was instructed to book the revenue in the 2016-2017 school year budget.
In doing so, however, the district’s ending fund balance was thrown out of whack, on the plus side.
“This has created a situation where the district is now anticipating a significant increase in the fund balance due to our cost-saving efforts and the unexpected receipt of the ... payment,” Burns said.
Impact Aid representatives did contact the district in September after the check arrived and advise officials to return the overpayment of approximately $4 million.
Administrators came up with the plan to pay an incentive for all employees in the middle of December.
“It was critically important to let our employees know how important they are to us,” Burns said. “They were all helpful in trying to cut costs last spring.”
In other news, the district raised $45,748 for United Way campaign with Williams-Ledger Elementary School being the top fundraiser at $9,109.
Results of the Nov. 7 school board election were announced with incumbents Bob Weiss winning Place 5, Jim Copeland winning Place 6 and Dr. Karen Harrison re-elected in Place 7.
Joan Manning, Inez Faison and Dr. Harrison were again appointed board president, vice president and secretary, respectively.
Board members also approved a pair of design schematics for Halstead Elementary School and Williams-Ledger Elementary School. Work at Halstead is for an electrical upgrade and at Williams-Ledger for a turn lane.