Upsala School Board receives audit, takes corrective action

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Following recommendations made by the Upsala School District’s annual audit report, the Board voted Nov. 28 to make several changes to current financial procedures.

Upon his retirement earlier this year, former auditor Gary Paulsen sold Upsala’s account to Schlenner, Wenner, who was represented at the meeting by Mary Backlund and Jon Archer.

Seven findings were brought before the Board, with recommendations for corrective action. The Board voted to accept the audit.

One situation common to small school districts and city councils is the limited segregation of duties. “It is pretty normal when you have small entities with only one bookkeeper for this to be the case,” Backlund said. “When you’ve only got one person, he or she does everything. It’s the nature of the beast.”

Because of the limited number of employees available to prepare financial statements, the district and auditor agree that the auditor will continue to prepare the statements, with the district implementing an internal control policy to document the annual review of the statements.

“You almost have to have a CPA on staff to avoid this situation,” Backlund said.

General financial journal entries are prepared and recorded by bookkeeping personnel at the school, without management approval. The audit report recommends that the district will check into internal control procedures with the possibility of having other individuals involved in the journal entry process.

“There again, we don’t have more people overseeing the process,” Backlund said. “It relates back to the first finding.”

Various student activity accounts have had no activity in recent years, and the report suggests that accounts which will no longer be used should be closed.

“The Board authorized the closing of the Saturday school, Comprehensive Arts Planning Program (CAPP), and classes of 2010, 2011 and 2012 accounts,” said Supt. Gery Arndt. “Any remaining funds will be divided up between the student council and yearbook accounts.”

Disbursements from student activity accounts must be in compliance with activity fund accounting requirements. As a result of the auditor’s recommendation, the district has discontinued the line of checks that were being used for district expenses and will closely monitor future disbursements.

“One of the activity accounts had a checkbook, and that was closed,” Arndt said. “All payments will now be going through the district.”

Disbursements were made from student activity accounts without the preparation and approval of a valid request form. Moving forward, the district will develop a policy requiring the preparation and approval of request forms for all disbursements from student activity accounts.

“The request forms will require the name of the vendor, the purpose of the expenditure and the date,” said Arndt. “Both the adviser and student representatives must sign before the dean of students or I can sign.”

“Student activities money is not taxpayer money,” Backlund said. “That is money from fundraising. They just need to dot their ‘i’s and cross their ‘t’s more closely.”