By Kathryn Schiliro, Managing Editor

While the Morgan County School System spent the bulk of local 1 percent sales tax (ELOST, or Education Local Option Sales Tax) funds on technology in July – more than $93,000 out of $176,000-plus for the month – administration also elected to purchase band instruments to the tune of (pun intended) more than $18,000 at the high school and $10,000-plus at the middle school.

The band directors at each of the schools have come before the board at least once a year for the past couple of years and requested the new instruments.

ELOST technology expenses included more than $35,000 on phone systems as well as a near $6,000 purchase of Apple iPads, part of a program being piloted by Freshman Academy teachers at the high school. Near $50,000 was also spent with Presidio Network Solutions.

In addition to instruments, other ELOST funds were spent at the high school, including more than $25,000 on materials for the new Freshman Academy science lab, and at the middle school– over $15,000 to reroute a sewer line that busted.

According to Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett, at the Monday, Aug. 12 school board meeting, the sewer line was installed when the middle school was built – in the 1950s – and crossed a lot, owned by a private investor, a the corner of the middle school. The new line was installed around the lot in an effort to avoid the same thing happening when the private citizen does work on the lot.

The ELOST fund began July with more than $3.8 million and, after the previously mentioned expenditures and near $288,000 in receipts, ended last month with more than $3.9 million.

Administration told the board that the ELOST fund was at about $3.7 million this time last year. Further, ELOST monthly collections have been down from the average $300,000 per month for the past several months.

As for the system’s operating fund, it started July with more than $2.1 million and, after receipts of more than $1.3 million, the deposit of a $2 million CD and $2.4 million-plus in expenditures, ended the month with near $3 million.

“We’re pretty much where we were this time last year,” Bennett told the board, citing last year’s operating fund total of about $2.6 million.

The system is still closing out on fiscal year 2013, he said.

In other financial news, system Internal Auditor Libby Whitaker reported to the board that the system received a letter, dated Aug. 7, from the Georgia Department of Education, stating that “there are no findings and/or questioned costs” as far as the system’s finances in FY12. The report is on the Department of Audits website, Whitaker said.

Large July ELOST Purchases: Total of $176,653.43

MCHS $54,859.81

Carolina Biological Co. (Freshman Academy science lab): $25,812.63

Music and Arts (band instruments): $18,161

MCMS $28,693.54

Cedar Hill Inc. (sewer line rerouting): $15,800

Music and Arts (band instruments): $10,146

Technology $93,100.08

Stormwood- Phone System: $35,412.63

Presidio Network Solutions: $49,950

PeachMac (Freshman Academy teachers’ iPads): $5,879.85