The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 3, 2013

Mankato Schools receives clean audit report

By Amanda Dyslin
adyslin@mankatofreepress.com

---- — MANKATO — Once again this year, the Mankato Area Public Schools' financial audit came out clean.

The Clifton Larson Allen firm reported on its findings at Tuesday night's School Board meeting. Aside from minor issues, Kim Hillberg of the firm gave a positive report on the audit of the district's $89 million budget.

“I was just very pleased with the clean audits,” said Supt. Sheri Allen. “It goes to show the great work of everyone.”

Jerry Kolander, director of business affairs, said audits are conducted annually and include “single audits” on any major federal program of $300,000 or more. As such, single audits were conducted by Clifton Larson Allen on school food service (due to the free and reduced lunch population), Title programs and special education, Kolander said.

Hillberg said the audits turned up only minor findings. One example was an employee in a federally funded position who also was working in a position that was funded by state and local dollars, Kolander said. The minutia of how the employee reported his or her time was flagged.

“We caught it in time,” Kolander said. “There was no infraction.”

The issue is one example of how thoroughly these audits are conducted, he said.

“You have the controls and procedures in place, it's just a matter of fine-tuning what you already have,” Hillberg said.

The report showed a district fund balance of about $14.8 million June 30, up from $14.2 million at the end of the previous year. The unassigned balance of the general fund is $9.43 million, up from $9.33 million in 2012, the report showed.

Kolander said the unassigned balance is a good indicator of “the health of an organization.” The district's policy is to have a reserve of one month's expenditures. The audit showed a reserve of about 53 days worth of expenditures, Kolander said.

“That is a nice cushion for us to be able to fund our programs,” he said.

The addition to the fund balance can be attributed in large part to the reclassification of certain special education costs. Federal funding reimburses districts at a 100 percent rate of expenditures, whereas state funding only covers a portion of costs. By reclassifying certain expenditures in special ed from state to federal, the district was able to recoup additional funds.

Last year, due to delays in state aid payments, the district showed a negative cash balance. This year, Kolander said it feels a lot better to actually see money in the bank instead of IOUs.

“That helps so much with your cash flow,” he said.

Hillberg praised the district's business office staff, reiterating that “nothing of any great significance” was found in the audit overall. Kolander said he's lucky to have Matt Wersal, a former employee at Clifton Larson Allen, as a member of the business office staff to help the district with the process.

“I'm very proud of my team,” Kolander said. “Overall, it was a very, very clean audit.”