School board hires $1k-a-day consultant

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In response to its current debt crisis, Sumter School District Board of Trustees unanimously selected Scott Allan of School Support, Inc., on Monday night to work as the district's school finance consultant. According to his resume, Allan has 28 years' experience in school district finance.

The board's public statement on Allan's selection says his responsibilities will include explaining the reasons for the district's current financial condition, advising the board on reduction of expenses for this fiscal year and closely monitoring the district's cash flow position. Given the assignments, Allan will review all cash flow analysis performed to date and Superintendent Frank Baker's emergency financial plan that he presented to the board last week. He will provide his own input before the board takes action to change its board-approved budget, according to school board attorney William "Bick" Halligan.

The board's action comes after the release last month of the 2015-16 audit report, which showed the district had gone over budget by $6.2 million in the fiscal year ending June 30. The audit report also revealed the district had $106,449 in its general fund balance at the end of the fiscal year.

Allan doesn't come cheap to the district, however. The written agreement between School Support, Inc. and the district's board will pay him $1,000 per day that he works in the school district, plus reimbursement of travel and overnight expenses.

Allan founded School Support, based in Rock Hill, in March 2007 to assist school districts in the state in all aspects of district administration, according to information he provided to the board. According to his resume, he formed School Support after gaining considerable experience helping school districts that had financial problems or whose staff lacked experience to properly deal with district finances.

His agency specializes in district financial turnarounds. According to his resume, Allan's most-recent turnaround has been Hampton County School District 2. In July 2014, the district found itself in a position where it was unable to pay a tax anticipation note that was due unless it didn't meet payroll and accounts payable requirements. Hampton County and another financial entity agreed to provide the district $2 million in funding, but the school board had to sign an agreement, giving all fiscal authority to the county, and by proxy, a financial consultant. Allan's firm was hired for the consultant position. According to his resume, Hampton District 2 is now financially secure.

School Support has also provided financial consulting services to Spartanburg County School District 7, Greenwood County School District 50 and Clarendon County School District 1 in Summerton, among others.

Before founding School Support, Allan served as deputy superintendent of finance and operations for Fairfield County School District and Director of Finance for Rock Hill School District Three, among other positions in the school finance field.

He started his work with the district on Tuesday.

According to the school board's public statement Monday night, it anticipates Allan's consulting services will extend through the spring of this year.

In other business, the school board announced it will meet next on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in a special called meeting at the district office, 1345 Wilson Hall Road. Since it's not a regular board meeting, public participation is not on the agenda.

Efforts to reach Baker on how many days per week on average that Allen will work with the district were unsuccessful Tuesday afternoon.

Allen interviewed with the board for the consultant position last week during another special called meeting of the board. The other candidate who interviewed for the position was Robert "Bob" Davis of Robert E. Davis LLC Consulting Services.