‘Not too alarming’ – School Board discusses audit

Posted by Decaturish.com January 14, 2015
City Schools of Decatur Board of Education during its July 8 meeting. File Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

City Schools of Decatur Board of Education during its July 8 meeting. File Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

This story has been updated. 

By Jill Nolin, contributor

The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education reviewed the system’s most recent audit on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

School officials had requested that auditors take a look at bookkeeping at Decatur High School. The auditors noted several ways bookkeeping could be improved, saying that the principal hadn’t signed off on some payments made with school funds.

Doug Moses, representing Mauldin & Jenkins, told the board Tuesday that the issue uncovered at the high school is “not too alarming,” especially for a small system with no internal audit department.

Among the items noted in the audit:

– Three of the payments “were paid significantly after the expenditure was incurred.”

– “For all 25 deposit slips sampled and tested, we attempted to trace to the cash collections posted to the register; however, there is no notation of cash or check. Since no notation exists, we could not trace to deposit slip.”

– “For all 25 deposit slips sampled and tested, we reviewed and noted signature of the money collector; however, no signature of second cash counter. We recommend a second person should count and verify cash as well as sign forms thus documenting second count.”

CSD Finance Director Susan Hurst said that the audit of the high school was initiated at the school system’s request. The principal during the time of the audit was Lauri McKain. McKain was promoted to Director of Secondary Education and finished out the 2014 school year, but left in December to take a job with the Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board. Noel Maloof is the school’s current principal.

McKain told Decaturish she is glad that she also has pushed for an audit of the school’s finances while she was principal.

“I’m pleased they finally contracted to have an audit at DHS,” McKain said. “I discussed this many times during my eight years as principal with the superintendent and finance directors. The flow of money from athletics, class dues, fund raising and field trips employs a full time book keeper who, quite frankly, is doing the books the way the previous bookkeeper did, (who did it the same as the previous one, etc.) without any procedural manual to guide the work. Getting feedback to improve processes is something that needs to become regular operating procedure at DHS and all the schools. When I reviewed the auditors report, I was pleased to see recommendations that are actionable and will strengthen the financial stewardship of funds at DHS.”

Auditors also recommended the school system adopt a purchasing manual for all of its schools and a conflict of interest policy.

The board, which approved the audited financial statements at Tuesday’s meeting, will be asked later to vote on a conflict of interest policy for staff members with hiring authority. The rest of the changes will be handled administratively, Superintendent Phyllis Edwards said.

Board member Bernadette Seals commended staff for requesting the extended review at the high school.

“I think it’s a great idea, when someone does come in as the new administrator, to have the books reviewed so that you can start with a clean slate and you know where things are progressing from the time that you took over,” Seals said. “Not to say that past administrators did anything wrong, but at least you’ll know where you’re starting and you’ll know those areas that need attention.”

In other business, Superintendent Phyllis Edwards requested a closed door meeting, known as an executive session, for an unspecified real estate matter in the next few weeks. When Attorney Bob Wilson asked why it couldn’t be done on Tuesday, Edwards said she wasn’t currently ready to discuss the matter.

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  • Non-attender

    How was the Spotlight presentation on Exceptional Student Services?

    • I believe Jill is working on a follow up to this. (I wasn’t there due to a prior obligation.)

  • Non-attender

    Just saw in the AJC that “Garrett Goebel was elected chairman of the Decatur school board Tuesday night, defeating incumbent Bernadette Seals 3-2. Goebel was nominated by Annie Caiola, the deciding vote cast by Lewis Jones. Julie Rhame was unanimously (5-0) elected vice chair. Goebel, who served as vice chair the past year, has been on the board since Jan. 2012, while for Rhame, who’s been a board member since Jan. 2004, it’s her first time elected to either office.”

    IMHO, even bigger news in the long run than the audit.

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