Assumption school system revising its fiscal procedures

A new annual audit finds the Assumption Parish school system ran afoul of the state bid law and has problems with the way it tracks some of its financial affairs, including employee pay and leave.

Under direction from the state Legislative Auditor’s Office, the school system’s paid auditor also conducted a deeper-than-usual review of system financial procedures for fiscal 2011-12.

School Superintendent Earl “Tibby” Martinez said his administration has been working on new policies with auditors and a school policy firm, Forethought Consulting.

Anya Randle, school director of business services, said the administration will present proposed polices to the School Board June 5, with a formal vote expected later that month.

School officials asserted the deeper review, known as an “agreed upon procedures report,” was prompted by a complaint to the Legislative Auditor but claimed the inquiry did not find any instances of fraud or misspending.

“It was just internal controls. It was just policies and procedures to govern activities,” Randle said.

Joy Irwin, assistant legislative auditor and director of local government services, declined to respond to the officials’ claim.

“We require this procedure when we have seen control and compliance findings in reports in the past,” she said.

The review included a look at procedures for a variety of financial and money management areas, including credit card use, travel reimbursement, budgeting, purchasing and contracting.

Audit findings noted three instances in which school officials failed to get any or all of the three quotes required under state law for purchases between $10,000 and $30,000.

The purchases involved air conditioning units, a fire alarm system and a sign in front of Pierre Part Middle School.

School officials did not dispute the findings, but offered explanations for each.

The air conditioning units, for example, cost less than $10,000 apiece, though not in total, and school maintenance officials believed the bid law did not apply because of the per unit price.

In another instance, school officials used donated money raised by parents to pay for the school sign and, as a result, believed the bid law not apply. But the sign was paid for through a school account and the system was cited, though two quotes were obtained, school officials said.

The audit findings also noted the School Board does not have proper internal control over payroll documentation for employee attendance, vacation and sick leave.

“Payroll was processed throughout the year without proper verification of hours worked or leave taken,” the audit finding says.

The separate procedures report details of what auditors found.

They could not verify whether 562 of the 711 employees who received a paycheck between Oct. 10 and Nov. 4 had completed documentation for their attendance.

Of the 402 employees on leave during the same period, auditors could not verify whether 191 had documented their leave.

Randle said employee time is tracked through an electronic system and with paper documents kept at the school level.

She said auditors were concerned documentation was not at the School Board central office, where records were checked.

She said no evidence was found that employees were improperly paid or given time off not accounted for.