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which would harmonize admirably with the plan above suggested. The mode of issuing general supplies has been greatly improved; but there is still lacking a proper account of such supplies received, issued, and on hand in the supply department.
The system of requisitions in this department is excellent; but, in practice, has been sacrificed to convenience; the requisitions which control and define the authority to create liabilities being signed, as a rule, after instead of before the purchase, thus destroying the advantage of a very good system. The Supply Agent is unable to properly handle, classify or safely keep the large stock of supplies in the limited space allowed as office and storeroom, being frequently compelled to store large quantities of valuable supplies in exposed or unfit places. More room should be assigned him as soon as practicable.
The Secretary and Supply Agent, whom the committee believe to be competent and painstaking officers, cannot be held responsible for the defects noted above. The fault lies in an incomplete general system.
This class of work needs at all times the closest and most careful scrutiny and supervision. These expenditures seem unnecessarily large, especially in the matter of furnace repairs; and in many instances the prices appear excessive.
There has evidently, in the past, been carelessness in dealing with repairs, and very little effort to stimulate competition.
Fortunately, this state of affairs no longer exists, but in its place a very excellent method has recently been inaugurated by the Building Committee, and so long as it is administered in the same conscientious and determined spirit as at present manifested, will be of great benefit to the Public Schools.
ESTIMATES AND APPROPRIATIONS.
The recommendations of the former Examining Committee upon these subjects, are heartily concurred in by this Committee, and have been practically applied by the Board.
The very ground-work of sound and prudent financial management in a trust of this character, lies in a careful forecast of the receipts and expenditures, and a limitation and control of the latter, through the medium of appropriations restricted to the income. The system now in operation reflects credit upon the Board, and has already been productive of good results.
If its principles are consistently adhered to, and strictly complied with, a thoroughly sound financial condition will always be assured.
The accounts of estimated receipts and appropriations, and the expenditures chargeable to the latter, are now kept only as memoranda. They should be carried to the regular books of the Board, and their condition reflected in each trial balance of the ledger.
The committee is pleased to report that during the last year under examination, the several special funds have been separated from the general fund, both as to cash and bills receivable, upon the books of the Board ; and an evident desire to respect the trusts with which the funds stand impressed under the law has been manifested by the Board.
This fund; on July 31, 1881, stood credited upon the books with $27,434.78 in cash and $27,100.00 in notes, of which latter, $15,300.00 are reported as worthless, and should be withdrawn from the account.
The undisputed sources of income of this fund are as follows:
1. All moneys, stocks, bonds, lands and other property belonging to the county school fund of the former county of St. Louis, at the date of the adoption of the constitution of 1875, and all fines, forfeitures and penalties, and proceeds of estrays, as also all moneys paid for exemption from military duty collected since the adoption of said constitution.
2. All real estate derived from the United States or State in possession of the Board on August 16, 1879, (under act of legislature, of May 16, 1879).
3. All proceeds of sales of above named real estate made since August 16, 1879.
These, under the opinions of the attorneys of the Board, form the only items of income that the Board is required by law to place in this fund; and speaking for the term under examination, this view of the law has certainly been strictly complied with, resulting in the balances above stated.
It will be observed that the law of 1879, relating to this fund, specially sets apart among other assets, the lands as well as the proceeds of future sales of same as a special fund, only the income from which can be used for general purposes, thereby unmistakably establishing this fund as a perpetual source of income for the support of the schools.
The proceeds of sales of real estate-derived from the United States and State,-made prior to the act of 1879, are not credited to this, but to the Building fund, and the action of the Board in thus withholding these proceeds from the Permanent Fund has been the subject of much comment.
The Board has undoubtedly been sustained in its action by written opinions of its legal advisors, whose construction of the law this committee is not prepared to question.
The committee realizes the importance and desirability of such an endowment fund, the principal of which can not be dissipated nor the income interfered with by legislation or political change, and believes that the neglect of proper provision for its establishment and preservation in the past is greatly to be regretted, and even now, as a matter of good policy certainly within the spirit of the law, the committee would recommend that the proceeds above mentioned, realized since the constitution of 1875, be credited to the Permanent Fund as speedily as practicable.
BONDED DEBT AND SINKING FUND.
The Bonded debt of the schools on July 31st, 1881, was as follows:
For the payment of the interest and ultimate redemption of the bonds ample provision is made by the constitution in authorizing a tax levy for the purpose, from the proceeds of which $375,000.00 of bonds and notes were paid prior to July 31, 1881, which, together with the bonds then outstanding, formed the original debt of $550,000, existing at the date of the adoption of the constitution of 1875.
The tax rate heretofore levied has been more than sufficient to meet the bonds and interest maturing, and a careful forecast of the income from this tax would have justified the Board in fixing the maturity of the bonds at an earlier date which would have resulted in a considerable saving of interest.
The balance to the credit of the Sinking Fund on July 31, 1881, was $30,830.43, and by a recent report it will be seen that on February 1, 1882, $71,010.25 stood to its credit. This amount is on deposit in Bank bearing interest and the rate of 2.75
per annum. As the outstanding school bonds are largely held in this city, and available for purchase by the Board, the committee would recommend that so much of the above balance as can be safely applied thereto, should be at once employed in purchasing and retiring the obligations of the Board.
The Sinking Fund is entitled to its proportion of the interests on deposits in Bank, as also to a part of the receipts from back taxes of 1876. With reference to the former, the failure to credit the amount is evidently an oversight which should be rectified. The difficulty and expense of ascertaining the correct amount of back taxes of 1876, to be credited to this fund, are, no doubt, the causes of the credit not having been given. The correct amount should be ascertained and credited as soon as practicable.
With these exceptions, the accounts on the books correctly represent the fund.
During the early portion of the period under investigation, the committee found the system of business loose and inadequate to an extent which fully justified the criticisms contained in the report of the former examining committee, which was submitted to the board February 17, 1880, and contained many well-timed and intelligent suggestions for improvement in the management of the fund. These recommendations were received by the Board in the proper spirit, and acted upon with a fidelity to the best interests of the Public Schools, that merits commendation.
While it cannot be questioned that a good system in the business management has been established, still its effectiveness and permanency are not assured. The admirable rules and official checks adopted are entirely