Audits find problems; officials say schools will improve
GONZALES — Public schools in Ascension Parish are facing higher fiscal audit performance expectations, school officials told the Ascension Parish School Board on Tuesday.
The district’s business services director, Diane Allison, reported results from the audits of the 2010-11 school year to the School Board’s Budget Audit Committee. It was the first year in the district’s history, she said, that every school was audited, and for many of the schools, it was their first audit in many years.
Every school in the district was cited for some audit findings, Allison said, including such common determinations as inadequate deposit and disbursement documentation, deposits not made in a timely manner and failure to use proper forms.
The school district made a number of changes in a short timeframe, which contributed to some of the findings, she said, but with more changes on the horizon, the process will continue to improve.
Some of the district’s points of emphasis include:
- Placing a priority on making more payments online.
- Searching for ways to reduce the number of checks schools write.
- Focusing on improving the district’s teacher debit card program.
- Continuing to use technology to improvement payment and records methods.
“It’s a process,” Allison said. “We still have more to do.”
“We can get better at it,” Superintendent Patrice Pujol said.
School Board member Troy Gautreau said the district has taken needed steps for improvement. He cited increased expectations, training and familiarity with the system as factors that will lead to better outcomes in the future.
“I think we really stepped it up to where it needs to be,” he said.
Pujol and Allison agreed.
“The whole level of expectation is different now,” said Pujol, adding she would like to see every school audited every year.
“I’m looking for a reduction (in findings),” Allison said, “and I have expectations in the type of findings I want to see.”
Other matters coming before the board included:
ISAAC DAMAGE: Pujol told board members the school system received an estimated $58,000 in damage from Hurricane Isaac.
St. Amant High School will cost the most to fix, she said, roughly $28,000.
Dutchtown High School and Galvez Primary School had about $7,000 in damage each, while the district lost about $15,000 worth of food, Pujol said.
The district plans to seek reimbursement from FEMA, she added.
“We’ll just go through the process and anything that’s recoverable, we’ll try to recover,” Pujol said.