Results of the audit of the Mexico School District by the state auditor's office were released Friday. Superintendent Kevin Freeman said the results were very positive and encouraging.
"The audit was thorough, with the team spending 42 working days on site," he said. "We cooperated completely, and opened all records to the auditing team. We are pleased with the clean report. Given all they reviewed, they only came up with a few findings that are all minor."
The audit found no significant noncompliance with legal provisions. A copy of the complete report is available on the state auditor's website (www.auditor.mo.gov) and the Mexico-Audrain County Library.
School District Business Manager Tony Chance also worked closely with the auditing team, providing information as requested. "I want to stress that the audit found no impropriety," he said. "The findings included in the audit simply suggest how the district can improve its business practice to lessen the chances for impropriety in the future."
In the areas audited, the overall performance of this entity was rated "good," which indicates that this entity is "well managed" and contains only a few findings that have already been, or will be implemented.
The scope of the audit covered, but wasn't limited to, the year ending June, 2011. The audit, while it included finances, looked at nearly every procedure the district has in place, from how the money is counted at ball games to how gasoline is purchased for lawnmowers to how the district secures and administers the MAP tests.
Personnel from the office of Thomas A. Schweich, Missouri State Auditor, performed the audit and found items of improvement to recommend in the categories of district procedures and segregation of duties.
The district procedure areas were fuel purchase, vehicle use and mileage reimbursement; and professional service contracts.
In the report which determined Mexico No. 59 did not adequately monitor fuel purchases, the district's response was to direct the Director of Transportation to review diesel fuel purchases vs. diesel fuel used: "A procedure has been implemented to record each district vehicle's usage on gasoline invoices and/or receipts. Once gas is purchased, the employee is required to identify the vehicle number on the receipt and sign the gasoline receipt. In addition, the district fuel credit cards are required to be signed out by an employee before it can be used to purchase gasoline."
In the second area, in which the report determined the district does not adequately monitor vehicle use, the district's response was to establish mileage logs for each district-owned vehicle.
In the mileage reimbursement area, in which the report determined the district does not adequately document the purpose of employee mileage reimbursement, the district's response was to amend the in-district travel forms to include the business purpose of mileage driven.
In the area of professional services, the report determined that the district did not solicit proposals for the hiring of a district attorney and for the employment of a business consultant. The district's response is "The school district will obtain a written retention letter and billing rates for legal services. The district will receive itemized bills that reflect the billing rates. The district will periodically solicit legal firms for their billing rates and services."
The second category in which an area of improvement was recommended by the audit was that of better segregating various accounting duties at schools and the central office.
The district's response is "The district has instituted a voucher system in which the Accounts Receivable Clerk must fill out a deposit verification form for each receipt of cash and/or checks received by the central office. This form is then substantiated and signed by another business office staff member. The Administration will institute procedures creating supervisory or independent reviews of cash receipt and depository records regarding financial secretaries."
Freeman said the recommendations of the auditor's report were instituted as soon as the suggestions were made. "Following the audit exit report in May, we knew the areas which we needed to improve," he said. "We immediately made these corrections."
The objectives of the audit were to 1) evaluate the district's internal controls over significant management and financial functions, 2) evaluate the district's compliance with certain legal provisions, and 3) evaluate the economy and efficiency of certain management practices and operations, including certain financial transactions.
"We are happy to have this audit behind us," Freeman said. "We had nearly 100 hours of employee labor costs in collecting data for the audit. I am proud of our district's employees and the professional way in which they conduct themselves in their duties as stewards of the taxpayers' money. The audit should give the public confidence that we are handling money, and in general conducting all business, in an appropriate manner."
Following the release of the finding, Schweich told The Ledger "Mexico is one of the better school districts that I have audited recently. Though there's been a lot of concerns voiced, the district seems to be pretty well run without a lot problems … and was found to have a lot of good situations."