No problems with school district’s audit
FRISCO – When it comes to financial management, Summit School Districts gets a grade A. So says independent auditor Paul Backes with McMahan and Associates, who presented his findings at a recent Summit School District Board of Education meeting.”Overall, it was a good, clean audit,” he said.He said his firm encountered few difficulties with Summit School District’s staff and report accuracy – in fact, the Colorado Department of Education accepted the district’s final report after six tries. Backus said the lowest number he’s seen is four or five transmittals before everything was accurate – and the highest was 42. Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Karen Strakbein explained that the state’s system verifies daily data entries with logical checks and mathematical comparisons to the year’s starting balance. When there are errors, both clerical and material, it asks for a revised report. Backus said the district is getting back to sustainable fund balances – funds available for emergency use – that carry over from year to year, as compared with less sustainable numbers from years past. Strakbein said board members in Summit County made a conscious decision to improve reserves to at least 7 percent. They now sit at 9.4 percent, she said. In 2007, the district had $943,000 in unreserved general fund balance. Today, they have $2.6 million. There were a few recommendations made, though. This year, the audit got more in depth in individual school, and that’s where some of the financial records fell short.”Overall, the procedures and processes were good, but there are some areas to check into,” Backus said, adding that school operations are a small percent of the audit.”All the recommendations are minimal from an operations standpoint.” They include ensuring the Frisco Elementary School principal is signing off on staff purchases instead of using a stamp, and that a third party food vendor has a secure collection box at the school. Auditors recommended the Summit Middle School athletic director have a cash box to make change for concession sales instead of making change from pocket money. The recommendation was made at Summit High School for activity sponsors turn in parent payments more quickly – and with two verification points – so the secretary can complete transactions during the weekly bank deposits and eliminate discrepancies with payments. There was also a note that the food inventory at year end last year was undervalued because of small errors that should be corrected.The audit covers the district’s financial activities for the previous financial year, ending on June 30. It covers everything from timely bank reconciliations and verifying reported bank balances to ensuring that expenses are legitimate, paid out in time and recorded in the right budget.”The purpose of the audit is for the board of education to hear directly from an independent party how the financial aspects of the district are going,” Strakbein said. She added that one of the board’s responsibilities is to ensure a balanced budget and transparency to the public.”There’s a lot of work that goes into (the audit),” Backus said. “The general public should be pleased and proud of how hard the school district staff has worked to get a clean audit … And I don’t say that lightly.”SDN reporter Janice Kurbjun can be contacted at (970) 668-4630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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