LAKEHURST – The borough’s elementary school is back to five day a week live instruction albeit with reduced hours. The district also received a good grade on its recent audit.
From mid-December to January 18, the district had gone to full remote learning. Teachers had requested the Board to consider waiting another 14 days before returning to live instruction but the Board chose to move forward with the plan to return. The students went back to live instruction on January 19, but only had eight days of classes before COVID-19 cases in the community spiked again and the district went full virtual for two more weeks.
On February 16, teachers and staff resumed live instruction again. Superintendent Loren Fuhring said, “We are happy to report we are back in school five days a week and we hope that stands through the end of the school year.”
“If we can get everyone back to five days a week and take in remote learners who want to return that would be great,” she added.
Fuhring also reported that state testing was postponed again for the current school year. “It is happening but they have delayed the timeline. We were told to just sit tight because that may change again. There are a lot of what ifs and open questions right now.”
The Board heard from Richard Helenbrecht of the firm of Armour Hulsart who performed most of the school district’s audit this year according to Business Administrator Barry Parliman.
“Normally, I’d be presenting this in November or December but of course this was a unique year. February 5 was the deadline for the state. Everything got filed on time and I delivered everything to the county office,” Helenbrecht said.
He added, “the audit went well under the circumstances. In the part where it offers any recommendations, we had none. Last year we had a couple of recommendation. One was because of the situation you were in with the mold from the year before (which caused the school to be closed until mitigation work was completed). You got the emergency aid so that helped.”
“You didn’t have a deficit balance in the general fund and your food services (costs) are getting better. You had a deficit in that and you are slowly working on that. Keep up the good work with that. You are a district that unfortunately gets a lot of delayed state aid,” Helenbrecht said.
The issue with delayed state aid involves a temporary hole in the budget, he said. The district is supposed to receive $700,000 in June and if it comes late, this plays havoc with record keeping.
“You don’t have that money and you don’t get it until July and the state may count that. You have that $700,000 even though you don’t get it until July. That is always something you have to be careful with in watching your cash flow situation,” he said.
He described the records as being in good shape. A meeting has been scheduled with Parliman and district staff “to see how things are going this year,” he said. He noted that Parliman calls or e-mails the firm on a regular basis when questions come up.
“Better to have questions answered during the year so we don’t have a situation of what happened at the end of the year,” Helenbrecht added.
“We get less aid and we have delays in getting things coming in on time,” Board President James Malden said.
Parliman said the delay in receiving the state aid was why the district showed such a deficit. “We were a month behind. We’ve always been upfront.”