School district receives clean audit report

The Warren County School District has received a clean audit report for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Buzz Felix, principal at Felix & Gloekler, P.C. of Erie, informed the school board on Monday night that the district “had a really, really good audit.”

Felix said that this was the fourth audit of the district that he has completed. He noted that the last year saw “two longtime business personnel” leave the district and said that the “business office is running on a skeleton crew.”

In spite of those challenges, Felix was pleased with the timeliness of the audit as well as the condition of the district’s finances, overall.

Indicating that the audit was completed in December of last year, Felix explained that the 2011-2012 audit report is the first to be delivered before April. In terms of the district’s accounting practices, he said that there is “definitely a noticeable improvement this year.”

“You did have a general fund balance surplus,” he added. The $576,635 surplus, a 13.5 percent increase over the prior year, was “surprising to me. There were some spending controls implemented.”

He also explained that the district’s general fund supported the food services in the amount of $350,000 two years ago. This past year, that total dropped to $150,000. Felix said that the drop is a result of “significant attempts” at collecting unpaid fees. The district “saw really good results there,” he added.

Felix was also pleased with the level of involvement in the audit process assumed by former Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel. While, he said, he often doesn’t see the superintendent when auditing a school district, “I saw a lot of Brandon.”

The audit report, approved by the board under the consent agenda during Monday’s meeting, outlines the challenges that the district faces headed into the future from a financial perspective.

“The stagnant status of the local real estate assessments, coupled with continued appeals from local businesses and industries, concerns the District as current operational expenses continue to rise without any normal inflationary increases in revenues,” the report said. “The impact of uncertain economic conditions upon government entitlement, stimulus, and subsidy revenues and the continued imposition of State and Federal mandates significantly inhibit the administration’s resources. With continued projections for declining student enrollment, the challenge to reduce operational costs while maintaining the expected high levels of educational programming is a continuing challenge for the District Board and administration.”