BRADENTON -- Two years ago, a visit from the auditor general to the Manatee County School District resulted in more than 42 findings.
This year, the exit conference took about three minutes and left the district with just one lingering concern, which is good news considering where the district was two years ago, said Joe Blitzko, the head of the Manatee County School Board's volunteer Audit Committee.
The biggest lingering concern is over who has access to some of the district's information technology, said Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Roberts. For example, Roberts said she has access to an employee address book, which she didn't really need in her job.
With the district's current software, it's difficult
to limit or restrict employee access, Roberts said. She reported that every auditor has flagged the item but none have found school district employees have abused or misused their access.
"I am very, very pleased about that," she said.
The auditor general recently finished an interim visit to the school district, reviewing documentation through June 30, 2015, and is expected back next month to start reviewing information.
"We've got everything resolved except one," Blitzko said Thursday. "There was nothing new for 2015. Hopefully, if that works out good they won't be back every year."
The school board's recent approval of a five-year nearly $10 million contract with Oracle and PeopleSoft -- which will take more than a year to implement -- will help with issues as well as bringing all the district's technology up to date, district staff said.
Audit committee members grappled with how they wanted to track the action plan for that particular piece, since they were weighing how to get appropriate updates on the plan without revealing the district's technology weaknesses, making them vulnerable to hacking.
"You just don't want to be telling people what your weaknesses are because you're giving them a flight path into us," said Byron Shinn, the district's internal auditor who reports to the volunteer audit committee on a number of projects.
Superintendent Diana Greene recommended a compromise. Patrick Fletcher, who heads the Information Technology Department, would be available to give updates to the audit committee but wouldn't offer as much detail.
"We'll just be talking in somewhat code," Greene said.
Greene recommended the district could work with a chief information technology officer in another district that's having a similar problem, and that person could reassure the committee the problem was being handled.
The cost would be minimal, Greene said. Blitzko said he liked the compromise.
"We'll be able to say yes we understand something's being done," Blitzko said.
The committee also heard updates on the district's purchasing cards, a previous item of concern. The committee also reviewed how many hours Shinn & Company, the internal auditor, had worked so far this year.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.