published Friday, February 24th, 2012

Grundy County Schools’ officials work on state audit findings

GRUNDY SCHOOLS AUDIT


A Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Division audit issued in late January documented eight findings in its review of Grundy County Schools’ finances.

• The General Purpose School Fund required material audit adjustments for proper financial statement presentation.

• The School Federal Projects Fund had a cash overdraft of $19,135 at June 30, 2011.

• Deficiencies were noted in the administration of the Little Jackets Daycare.

• The office had deficiencies in purchasing procedures.

• Expenditures exceeded appropriations by $29,086.

• Deficiencies were noted in the accounting records.

• Three employees received questionable compensation totaling at least $13,072.60.

• Seven employees received $600 bonuses without the approval of the Board of Education.

Source: Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Division of County Audit

Grundy County Schools’ officials continue work on a January state audit that listed eight findings including more than $29,000 in overspending, a $19,000 overdraft, “questionable compensation” for three employees and unapproved bonuses for seven others, officials said.

“A breakdown in communication of our protocol during a six-month period where the director position, and several supervisors, changed positions numerous times caused some of these problems,” Director of Schools Jody Hargis said Thursday in an email. Hargis, a former director of schools during the last decade, replaced director Clay Newsome in December 2010. Newsome served six months in the job.

The audit reviews the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011.

Hargis said all eight of the findings concerned him, but those “that deal with funds are the most concerning,” he said.

Board of Education members accepted a corrective action plan at their last meeting, he said.

“We will obviously monitor our procedures and will address any concerns that are presented,” he said.

The countywide, annual audit released in January contained 23 findings and recommendations for eight county offices, 15 of them in the county mayor and director of schools offices, documents show. More than half those findings, eight, were in the schools director’s office.

In the schools audit, findings included a $19,135 cash overdraft, $13,072 in “questionable compensation” for three employees, seven school employees received $600 bonuses without school board approval, and expenditures exceeded appropriations by $29,086.

Auditors also noted that the school system’s general purpose fund had to have “material audit adjustments” to be properly presented for review, the office had purchasing procedure deficiencies and deficiencies were found in administration of the Little Jackets Daycare and in accounting records.

School board member Charles Sanders said Wednesday that he felt the officials were addressing the findings as well as they could.

“The director has some recommendations [from auditors] and he’s following through with them,” he said.

Sanders said the finding on purchasing procedures — the board approved the highest of three bids for a sprinkler system for two schools in the face of an inspection by state fire officials — was because the matter was “an emergency.”

He said board members approved a bidder they had worked with before who could start work immediately.

Sanders said the school board retroactively approved the bonuses and the salary increases for the federal programs secretary/bookkeeper and the special education secretary. He said board members didn’t disapprove of the moves, they just weren’t properly brought before the vote for official approval.

“It takes a while to correct some of these things,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, I think we’re getting along fine on it.”

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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