LYNCHBURG, Va. – In a release sent to the media Thursday, Lynchburg City Schools says it is giving back the $862,000 city council members voted to give it, just last month.
“The extra 20% we could not find, and that was the $862,000 council generously allocated for us. But once we found that, we had the money. We knew that we could do it within the budget. It was the right thing to do, to give it back,” Susanne Morrison, LCS board chair, said.
After an in-depth investigation, school leaders say they found differences in the 2019-2020 budget projections with this year's budget. This means they found money within the current budget to give staff a salary increase and living wage adjustments next year.
“It came from salaries and health and benefits that we had not used,” Morrison said.
Council members, like Jeff Helgeson, who were against the funding from the beginning, say, “This is what we argued for, the minority on city council argued they had plenty of money. And I’m glad that the school administration agreed.”
Mayor Treney Tweedy says despite the differences on council, she still stands by her vote to support LCS but also credits the school division for its transparency.
“We are not in their process, in their books, in their meetings. So we now have a superintendent, as an era of new leadership, that is not just taking everything at surface. And so she continues to ask questions. She continues to review,” Tweedy said.
School leaders say they’ve hired an outside consultant part-time to help the finance department, while they look for a chief financial officer --- a position that became vacant June 6. LCS officials would not tell 10 News why and said they "do not comment on personnel matters."
School leaders say the superintendent is also working to find a third-party consulting firm to do a forensic audit of the organization’s financial practices.
“I want the public to know and our employees to know that we are committed to be the best we can with the best resources,” Morrison said.
We’ve attached LCS and the mayor’s full statements to read.