Clean Audit, Financial Award for District
Audit Presentation at January BOE Meeting
At the January 22, 2020 Manchester Township Board of Education meeting, Dave Gannon, of the accounting firm PKF O’Connor Davies, made a presentation explaining the district’s audit report for 2018-19.
Gannon explained that the presentation was being made later than normal (it is usually done in October) because the state was late in getting out needed information. He said the deadline for filing was extended and the district met the deadline.
“I like to start my presentations every year just to let you know how much cooperation we get from the administration and all the employees of the district,” Gannon said. “We have a number of workers on site for a number of weeks, and that coincides with everyone still having to do their job, so it's very important that we get cooperation. We always do. Everyone has a very cooperative and very excellent attitude about going through the audit.”
“One thing that the district has done for a number years is submit their financial statements for additional transparency and scrutiny to the International Association for School Business Officials,” Gannnon said. He announced that the district had received the ASBO Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the 24th straight year. “It's quite an accomplishment, so congratulations,” he remarked.
Gannon reported that the district received an unmodified opinion on the district's financial statements for 2018-19, which means that there were no findings or modifications that require corrective action.
“What I would tell you is that the business office does a really excellent job of putting together the financial statements so when you get your monthly board secretary reports you can be assured that those are very high quality reports,” Gannon told the board. “They really do an excellent job of putting the financial statements together monthly as well as having support for all of those amounts. I don't think there's been a time where we've requested a voucher, we've requested support for a receipt or we've requested a contract where the district hasn't been able to provide, in every instance, supporting documentation.”
Gannon said he was happy to report that the district has done an excellent job of turning around a deficit at Regional Day School. “Regional Day School for the last three years has had a deficit in its fund balance and last year it had grown to the largest at $749,000 in a deficit position,” he said. The district turned this around, he said, by containing costs at Regional Day School and also implementing strategies to enhance enrollment, especially at a younger age. Last year RDS had a negative balance of $749,000 and Gannon reported that they now have a positive fund balance position, for the first time in three years, of $590,000.
In addition to the general audit, the firm also does a specific audit for federal and state programs and Gannon said they also issued an unmodified opinion there.
“You know we come in to do the audit one time a year but the communication that occurs really all throughout the year between our office and the business office, it's constant,” Gannon remarked. “So if there's a question or concern it's discussed all throughout the year so there are no surprises during the audit. That kind of open dialogue really minimizes findings.”
Business Administrator Craig Lorentzen commented, “This is a very intensive process, it probably takes four or five weeks of fieldwork, there's a lot of communication back and forth, there's a lot of documentation that gets prepared ahead of time and Dave and his group are very respectful. I appreciate the professionalism from the firm.”
The 2018-19 school year was one of the more challenging years for the business office according to Lorentzen. “We lost one of our accounts payable people that passed away from cancer during the school year. Our payroll person relocated in the early spring right before we had one of the largest retroactive salary adjustments to make after a settlement with our teachers association,” he said. “We were short-handed, had new payroll personnel and everybody grouped together and picked up the slack and we were able to get everything done and, as Dave said, get it done right.”
Lorentzen said the financial award validates the district’s commitment to fiscal integrity and transparency. “Achieving the award is great but it's definitely not my award or a finance department award. This award was achieved because the staff in the schools and various departments in the district take pride in what they are doing. Everyone has a part in making sure that we're doing things the right way. So I just want to take the opportunity to thank the central office staff for what they did this year to pick up some of the slack for some of the people that we lost and also thank the building and departmental staff for the jobs that they do, because every year it seems like more and more regulation comes out and there are more things we have to do. We are constantly having new things added to our plate and every year our staff and the entire district seems to adapt to that, so I want to thank them.”
(Photo: Business Administrator Craig Lorentzen (right) presents financial award plaque to BOE President Ken Pate.)