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Audit for Benson Schools shows numbers in the black

BENSON -- Independent auditors for Benson Public Schools said Monday the district will boast positive numbers for its 2008 budget and general fund.

According to Superintendent Lee Westrum, the district will have a budget surplus of $120,966 by the end of the year.

Westrum said Tuesday auditors reported to the School Board that the district's books were in order and showed positive gains.

For the fiscal 2008 budget, Westrum said, the district spent $10,841,486 but took in $10,962,452. Westrum said, the figures were "much better" than the district was anticipating.

The district will also end 2008 with a general fund balance of $2,155,994, Westrum said. That is an increase of more than $162,000 from the previous year.

Westrum said the auditors were pleased to see a school district with a strong fund balance, especially considering the district's enrollment figures.

According to the auditors' report, 1,273 students were enrolled during the 1996-97 school year. For 2008-09, auditors project a year-end enrollment of 967 students. Auditors expect that number to decline to 860 students by 2012-13.

Westrum said the district does everything it can to maintain its students base in an effort to retain enrollment-related state aid.

The positive news, however, could be trumped next year. In June, the School Board approved a 2008-09 budget that includes a $361,500 deficit. The district will cover that predicted loss by dipping into its general fund.