The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 5, 2012

Mankato schools get ‘clean’ audit

MANKATO — Mankato Area Public Schools’ 2011-12 audit came out clean, according to the firm Clifton Larson Allen LLP.

The agency reported on its findings at Monday night’s School Board meeting. Aside from several minor issues, Kim Hillberg of the firm said, “in the grand scheme of things,” it was a very good report for the district.

“Overall, the district is in good financial health,” Hillberg told the board.

Jerry Kolander, Mankato Schools 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.

“They check all of our business procedures and make sure we’re in compliance with the (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles),” he said. “They issued us what they consider a clean audit.”

The report showed a district fund balance of about $14.2 million June 30, up from $13.2 at the end of the previous year. The unassigned balance of the general fund is $9.3 million, up from $8.9 million in 2011, the report showed.

In essence, however, a portion of that figure is an “IOU from the state,” Hillberg said, due to delays in state aid payments. The district is not sitting on $9.3 million in cash, she clarified. The report actually showed a negative cash balance due to the late state aid payments.

“With the state aid shift, the state didn’t pay the amount of state aid they normally would have paid in other years; they delayed payments,” Kolander said.

As the funding breakdown indicates, about 79 percent of the general fund revenue comes from the state, 14.4 percent comes from property taxes, 4 percent is federal dollars, and 2.6 percent comes from other sources, Hillberg said.

Kolander said one of the minor issues that came up was that the district should have borrowed funds if its general fund balance wasn’t large enough to meet its obligations. (The district’s fund balance accounts for owed state aid.)

Hillberg said the issue is common among districts.

“It wasn’t (a big deal),” Kolander said. “I think it goes to show just how thorough the auditors did look at our books.”

Typically, because of the numerous people involved with the funds, students activities is a common area for issues to arise in an audit, Hillberg said. Kolander said both East and West high schools have many different accounts for all the activities, including band and choir trips, ticketing for school plays and numerous other things.

“There wasn’t a single finding in student activities,” said Supt. Sheri Allen. “That’s phenomenal.”

Kolander concurred with Hillberg that nothing unusual arose on the report. Hillberg said the district’s financial statements were fairly represented.

Minor issues had to do with tweaking documentation for special education and Title 1 services and inaccuracies in the number of free and reduced meals served. Because the number was under-reported, the error actually resulted in added funding, Hillberg said.

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