Manatee school officials, internal auditors at odds with "closed" action plans in response to audit findings

mdelaney@bradenton.comJune 12, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Internal auditors have approved just three of 15 actions plans reviewed in response to 42 audit findings for the Manatee County School District.

District officials, however, say 13 of 42 action plans are closed, meaning they should meet the requirements, according to updates provides during an Audit Committee meeting Wednesday.

Internal auditors have returned some completed action plans, saying more work is necessary. Not all completed or high-priority action plans have been reviewed, said internal auditor Byron Shinn from Shinn and Co. of Bradenton.

Michael Boyer, Manatee district chief financial officer, said school officials deemed 13 action plans complete in response to the general audit findings.

Completed action plans are submitted to Shinn for review to see if they are in compliance. External auditors have the final say as to whether school financial issues have been properly addressed.

So far, officials at Shinn have given the green light to only three action plans, sending the rest back for adjustments, although district officials who submitted completed action plans apparently believed their plans were already in compliance.

"Those are things that concern me the most," Boyer said, who is leaving the district June 27.

Shinn officials will begin reviewing nine more action plans next week. Shinn said Wednesday he'd give an overview to the committee June 30 at the end of the fiscal year on what the situation looks like.

Officials do not expect all 42 findings to be in compliance by fiscal year's end.

"It's really intense at the end here," Shinn said Wednesday. "We're seeing these holes."

In addition to addressing all findings, internal auditors for the Manatee County School District are still figuring out how $6 million was improperly spent from a 2009 sales bond that helped finance projects at three

district schools.

Shinn, bond counsel and the school board attorney have received documents from the bond trustee, who authorizes spending the bonded money, to identify who authorized the improper transactions from the trustee.

"Who approved the disbursements should be on there," Shinn said.

Those documents are still being processed by Oscher Consulting P.A. of Tampa, consultants working on the bond issue with Shin. More information will be presented June 23 at a special board workshop, Shinn said.

The investigation by the internal auditors has shown $6 million of a $45 million bond was improperly spent or not documented at all. A previous draft report presented to the board showed money improperly spent on two school projects not included in the original bond.

In 2009, a certification of participation was formed to fund three projects: an addition at Palmetto High School, work at Rogers Garden Elementary School and modernizing the transportation and maintenance facility at the Matzke complex. The certification made $45.2 million available for these projects, according to the report.

Oscher officials found the projects used only $38.8 million leaving $6.4 million unspent, according to the report.

Bond proceeds can only be used for projects specifically stated in the bonds, and the leftover money should not have been transferred to other projects. Oscher reported the money funded projects at the Manatee Technical Institute campus on Caruso Road and at Myakka Elementary School, and paid debt service.

The improper money transfer occurred when Tim McGonegal was district superintendent.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.

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