Audit shows that school district finances continue to improve
by Laura Haley
Contributing Writer
Dec 25, 2013 | 1385 views | 0 0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The annual audit of the Grand County School District’s financial statements for the 2012-2013 fiscal year show continued improvement four years after the district faced a financial crisis.

Ray Bartholomew, a senior partner at Squire and Company PC, a Provo-based auditing and accounting firm, said the district received the best report an institution can get.

“It’s good to see some marked progress,” he said. “You’re stronger. You’re healthier. You’re better off today than you were a few years ago.”

Bartholomew said that most healthy businesses try to have enough funds to cover two to three months worth of expenditures. He said the district’s primary fund, the General Fund, is almost where it needs to be to meet that number. The audit shows the General Fund’s balance to be almost $2.5 million. He said the district’s monthly expenditures are approximately one million dollars.

Bartholomew did note that the district has not set aside money to fund accrued sick leave or early retirement, and he suggested that the board consider setting some money aside to make sure there is a reserve to cover those funds. He suggested that amount should be about $350,000.

“We have to spend resources from future budgets to pay for that,” Bartholomew said. “Even though they earned it in the past, the future has to finance that.”

Bartholomew told the Grand County Board of Education that the district had promised those benefits to teachers.

“It’s showing that you’ve made a promise and you’re setting aside resources to keep that promise,” he said.

The one fund that Bartholomew expressed concern about was the Food Service fund, which covers school breakfasts and lunches. The fund has been struggling for a few years as the number of students eating meals at the school has declined and so have federal subsidies.

“The fund is not doing as well as it has in the past,” he said, suggesting that it may be time for the board to either consider subsidizing the food service fund or increasing the cost the schools charge for meals.

Matt Geddes, a supervisor with Squire and Company, also presented the district’s compliance report that is done in conjunction with the financial audit. The compliance audit focuses on issues such as cash management, budgetary compliance and nepotism.

Geddes said that if auditors find any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses, they are required to report them.

“We did not identify any of those items,” Geddes said.

He did note that there were a few small issues. Geddes said those did not constitute significant deficiencies or material weaknesses, but were still brought to the district’s attention. Auditors found “certain minor exceptions with established District polices and procedures” that took place in accounting within one of the district’s schools, according to the report.

The report also noted an issue with a new accounting system that the district implemented. As a result of the new system, the district implemented new coding definitions. However, in some instances the old account coding was used, creating some conflict and confusion.

Geddes said the district business administrator, Robert Farnsworth, was aware of the issues prior to the audit and brought them to the auditor’s attention. Both issues have been reviewed by the school district and are being addressed.

“There was nothing to be really concerned about,” Geddes said.

“These reports are a testament to the hard work that the superintendent has put in, that Robert [Farnsworth] has put in, and all of the staff,” Bartholomew said. “We really, really enjoy working with Grand County School District.”

School board members welcomed the positive news.

“This is a sign that we are getting more and more financially stable and understanding where we came from and where we could go,” Grand County Board of Education President Jim Webster said.

Printed copies of the full audit are available by contacting Farnsworth. The district will also be placing a link to the document on its website at www.grandschools.org.

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