Three years after the School District of Manatee County was shredded by the auditor general and handed 42 audit findings, district officials enjoyed a much more pleasant presentation Wednesday.
The state auditor general presented the Manatee County Audit Committee with the state’s findings on Wednesday in the district’s 3-year review. The findings? Very few.
In 2014, the auditors found 33 operational, seven federal and two financial areas where the district needed to improve or adjust its practices. On Wednesday, that number had been reduced to just nine operational and zero financial findings.
Where we were three years ago was close to an F, so we are getting closer to an A. - Audit Committee Chairman Joseph Blitzko
“There were no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses identified,” said Karen Collington, an auditor general with the Florida office, summarizing the findings of an audit of the school district’s financial reporting from the 2015-16 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2016.
Audit Committee Chairman Joseph Blitzko was pleased with the results.
“Where we were three years ago was close to an F, so we are getting closer to an A,” Blitzko said.
The nine operational findings revolved around practices related to time-keeping, cash flow management at Manatee Technical College, the number of virtual courses offered by the district and policies establishing a process for identifying teachers entitled to differentiated pay from the state.
One of the findings involved just three teachers who had applied for the Best and Brightest scholarship using either handwritten or temporary college entrance exam reports.
“You have to be realistic. There will always be something wrong, but to get it down to nine is very good,” Blitzko said.
This is huge. You frame it. Thousands of hours went into looking for problems. There has been some real sweat equity here. - Byron Shinn, a certified public accountant and owner of Shinn & Co. in Bradenton
The district still is classified as “high risk” by the auditor general’s office, but as long as the district gets a clean bill of health for two years in a row, they will be rated “low risk.”
District Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Roberts said the ratings are used by the auditors to determine how much of a risk the district is for not using best operational or financial practices. Districts considered “high risk” are examined much more closely than “low risk” districts.
Byron Shinn, whose firm Shinn & Co. worked as internal auditors for the School Board, said the positive results were because of hard work by the district.
“This is huge. You frame it,” he said. “Thousands of hours went into looking for problems. There has been some real sweat equity here.”