Dayton schools push back on audit

Dayton Public Schools’ state audit for 2014-15 had a mix of good and bad, with six findings of noncompliance offset by an “unmodified” opinion on the district’s financial statements. There were no findings for recovery of misspent money.

The district pushed back on some of the areas where the state cited problems.

The state auditor listed an item of “noncompliance and significant deficiency” because the school board in mid-June pre-authorized Treasurer Craig Jones to make necessary accounting entries at the June 30 close of the fiscal year, with the details to “retroactively be attached to this resolution.”

The auditor said the school board should approve all amendments to appropriations. But DPS argued that other districts have used that approach for decades with no problem, saying the state is not applying the standard fairly and uniformly across the state.

“That seems unfair and wrong,” Jones said. “It depends on the auditor you get. … It seems we were singled out for something that a lot of other districts do.”

In two other findings of noncompliance, the auditor’s office said the district mishandled transfers or payments from bond funds. But the district said it exactly followed the advice of its bond attorney, citing specific emails.

Jones said in the big picture Dayton Public Schools is in strong financial shape. He cited financial statements showing the district’s net position is up from last year, plus the Fitch bond rating agency’s decision in September to upgrade DPS’ outlook from negative to stable.

The Association of School Business Officials and the Government Finance Officers Association both gave DPS awards for “excellence in financial reporting” based on the district’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

“The fact that we’re getting the highest two financial reporting awards every year speaks to our level of professionalism and the way we’re doing business,” Jones said. “And we’re trying to improve on the things we can improve on.”

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