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Audit finds problems in school accounting
Results are being addressed, but no mismanagement occurred, LeBrun says

A state audit of the McDuffie County schools for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010, found problems in internal controls of school activities, capital assets and special education funding.

"We identified certain deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting that we consider to be material weaknesses and other deficiencies that we consider to be significant deficiencies," State Auditor Russell Hinton said in a letter, dated June 28, that accompanied the report.

The only significant deficiency involved inadequate control of school activity accounts. The report said that a band trip account was not recorded on the school district's general ledger and that some gate receipts "were not properly documented, reconciled or charged to the correct account."

Comptroller Tom Smalley said Thomson-McDuffie Middle School was not reconciling gate receipts.

"The school has been made aware of this finding and is taking steps to account for the tickets on a tallied summarization sheet for each event. This will result in a better control to reduce the risk of theft," Smalley said.

However, he said the system's failure to monitor capital assets was a bigger problem, according to the auditors. The report said the capital assets listing was inaccurate and incomplete.

"Building and Improvements completed during the year under review were not properly removed from Construction in Progress and added to the capital assets listing," the auditors' report said.

"This omission resulted in audit adjustments of $3,212,813.00 to Building and Improvements."

Superintendent Jim LeBrun said that involved construction of the middle school and that it has been corrected.

He also said that every item worth more than $5,000 is considered a capital asset and that the system is inventorying all those items.

The auditors also noted that the system reduced expenditures on special education in FY 2010. Federal law requires school systems to spend an amount at least equal to what they spent on special education in previous fiscal year.

The McDuffie County school system spent $3,116,237.85, or $5,792.26 per student, in FY 2010, down from $3,216,030.75, or $6,000.06 per student, in FY 2009.

"Many school systems across the state have this issue this year because we were cut so much by the state," LeBrun said.

"This is one we could do nothing about because we had to reduce expenditures. It's just an evil necessity."

He said the problem should be corrected in the coming school year.

"This will basically take care of itself. It will be a one-year thing because we had all these massive cuts."

LeBrun said all of the audit's findings are being addressed.

"There is absolutely nothing on this audit that shows any kind of mismanagement or anything unethical," he said.

Web posted on Thursday, July 21, 2011

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