The school system has or is responding to all 18 findings, and in several cases already has addressed the deficiencies, according to the school system’s response to the state and school system officials.
This was the second time the school system has been audited by the state’s Office of Legislative Audits. The previous audit was in 2007.
Thomas J. Barnickel III, legislative auditor for the state’s Office of Legislative Audits, said none of the findings were unusual and many of the findings were issues common in audits of other public school systems in Maryland.
When legislation increased state funding to school systems several years ago, state officials wanted more oversight of school systems’ financial operations and how the state funding was spent, Barnickel said.
In the mid-2000s, the state began auditing public school systems every six years, he said.
So far, compared to the other five school systems that have been audited twice, Washington County has by far done the best job resolving findings from its first audit, Barnickel said recently.
State officials reviewed the status of 21 of its 26 findings from the 2007 audit and repeated only three of those findings in the 2013 audit, the audit states.
State officials want everything addressed, but there are no penalties or funding ramifications from the audits, Barnickel said.
“We looked at it from the point of view of a taxpayer and state providing money to an entity, so the entity should take all precautions necessary to protect the resources they’ve been given” Barnickel said.
Washington County Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said the legislative audit is a good thing, providing an “independent set of eyes on the way we do our work here. I think it’s important that we can verify to the community that we’re in fact responsible with the resources they entrust to us.”
The school system has received “clean audits” from a local accounting firm for several years.
Wilcox and Barnickel said the state audit is more complex and in-depth than the local annual audit.
Barnickel said the annual local audit reviews financial statements, to make sure the numbers are fairly represented, and the school system’s federal grant programs. The state audit, done over several months, did not duplicate the local auditors’ work, but took a closer look at operational controls and efficiencies the school system could gain, he said.
Wilcox said he expects information about the state audit to be presented at a school board meeting this summer.
Wilcox said he wouldn’t characterize any of the findings as a “concern,” but there were a couple of things the school system wants to review.
Among the three findings the state audit repeated from 2007 was that duties weren’t segregated enough in the Central Business Office concerning cash collections, deposit preparation and accounts receivable, according to a copy of the audit, available online at www.ola.state.md.us/Reports/Schools/WCPS13.pdf.