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East gets positive audit

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District has yet to submit 2012 report

By Mercy Lopez

Las Vegas City Schools is making progress on  its late audits, with the latest one containing good news for the district.

Auditor’s issued an unqualified opinion, the best opinion an entity can get, on the district’s financial statements for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2011. The district received a qualified opinion on the major programs part of the audit. An unqualified opinion means that the auditor has no reservations about the accuracy of the district’s financial statements. A qualified opinion means the auditor identified some deficiencies.

“I am extremely happy with the results of this audit,” said board president Gloria Lovato Pacheco. “School finances are paramount with the board and with our superintendent (Sheryl McNellis-Martinez).”

The report, which was recently released by the state Auditor’s Office, outlines 13 findings for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2011.  Albuquerque-based Griego Professional Services, LLC, states that the findings include material weaknesses and other deficiencies in the handling of the district’s finances.

The recent audit report continues a trend of improved audits. In 2010, the district also received a multiple opinion. In 2009, the district received a disclaimer opinion, one of the worst opinions the entity can receive.

But the district still has work to do before it is back on track. Among the findings in the most recent audit is that the district’s audit report was late again. The final report for the 2011 fiscal year wasn’t received by the state Auditor’s Office until July of this year, which is about 20 months after it was due. The audit for the 2012 fiscal year was due Nov. 15 2012, and it has been submitted yet. The audit for the fiscal year that just ended on June 30 is due on Nov. 15.

In the most recent audit, Griego Professional Services, LLC, the firm that performed the audit, states that the school district did not comply with cash management requirements regarding federal programs. Despite that glitch, auditor’s determined that the district was in compliance with all material aspects pertaining to federal programs. School district officials responded to each one of the audit findings.

As for internal control, Griego Professional Services, LLC, states that it identified several internal control deficiencies within the financial statements, and they were characterized as both material weaknesses and significant deficiencies.

The major awards portion of the audit identified significant deficiencies and material weaknesses.

Material weaknesses included the district being unable to reconcile bank statements to the general ledger to the tune of  $2,458.

Other findings include:

• Late audit reports, although district officials say they are making progress on that front.

• Over-spent budgets in major funds including operational by $28,561 and in non-major in Title 1+ program by $22,457. Auditors say this is a major deficiency.

• District finance staff being unable to prepare financial statements due to lack of skills and knowledge. The district brought in a new finance director last year.

• Significant deficiency with cash receipts as the audit test work identified seven out of 25 deposits that weren’t made within 24 hours.

•  Deficiencoes within the district’s internal control structure.

•  Cash management problems. The auditor reports that the “district did not maintain sufficient cash amounts within the general fund to cover operation and program expenditures.” The problem is attributed to turnover in the finance director position.

•  The district incurred late fees because it paid its utility bills late.  The test work revealed that the district paid $683 in late fees.

The late audit caused the district to be unable to qualify for emergency supplemental funding for the upcoming school year. Lovato-Pacheco said the district and the board have been working hard to get the district up to date on the audits.

Lovato-Pacheco said the district is still on target for its Aug. 30 date for the 2011-12 audit submission to the state Auditor’s Office. McNellis-Martinez said the required audit information has been given to Griego Professional Services, LLC.

“We are waiting for his report and exit meeting,” she said. “It should be within the next 30 days.” At that point, the district will be current with all its audits.

 As for the 2012-13 audit, the district has published a request for proposals for audit services. Lovato-Pacheco said the district plans to submit that audit  by the Nov. 15 due date.