Shorewood School District to analyze account discrepancies

May 14, 2014

Shorewood — The inconsistencies in the Shorewood School District's financial books have prompted the school board to analyze its business practices and close outdated accounts.

David Cobb, the chairman of the district's finance and facilities committee, proposed an assessment of the district's business operations in the wake of several financial discrepancies, including one in which the district paid $600,000 more than promised for the high school stadium renovations, and a $200,000 surplus in the student fees fund.

Cobb said the assessment will go beyond the scope of a traditional audit, examining the district's business operations, including the human resources department.

"To have confidence in the accounting system we are using, to have confidence in the redundancies in place to control how transactions occur, to have confidence in reports being generated and to have enough understanding of the way we use technology, I think all says we have to get this done quickly," Cobb said.

"This is going to be a full review of what I think is a sorely needed efficiency in our school district," Cobb later added.

The board voted unanimously to bid out for a financial analysis that would also make recommendations of how to improve its processes. Neither the cost of the assessment nor the cost of implementing that assessment's recommendations are known at this time.

"We will not know the implementation costs until we do the assessment, but we shouldn't approve the assessment unless we're committed to the implementation." he said.

The firm that conducts the financial assessment would also be responsible for the separate task of cleaning up the district's balance sheets. Cobb said there are school district financial accounts that are four or five years old and have negative balances. The board unanimously approved the finance facility's recommendation to obtain a firm to clean out the old accounts by June 25, in order to give a fresh slate to incoming business manager Patrick Miller.

Those old accounts have not showed up in previous audits, which led Cobb to question the quality of the audit review the district is receiving.

"I don't know why the auditors haven't nailed us on this yet," Cobb said.

Cobb said the finance and facility committee will discuss retaining a new audit firm at a future meeting.

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