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16 Years of Clean Audits for Manchester's School District

Audit presentation was given at the Oct. 17 regular school board meeting

For the 16th straight year, auditors have concluded that Manchester's school district has its finances in order.

David Gannon, a partner at the Wiss and Company accounting firm, presented his findings from an audit conducted in June which again found that the district's financial reporting was accurate and met the standards for recognition from the Association of School Business Administrators International.

"Every year we receive excellent cooperation from all of the employees in the district. This is the first engagement we start as a firm, it's the first report we send out as a firm and it's the first board presentation that is chosen," Gannon said last week when he presented the audit report to the Board of Education.

The district was awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the 16th straight year from the ASBAI, a group founded in 1910 to promote high standards of school management.

"From the auditor's standpoint, that's as good as it gets," said board President Donald Webster.

The award demonstrates the district's commitment to quality and transparent reporting, the district's Business Administrator Craig Lorentzen said. It is a "tremendous accomplishment" for all staff. 

"Getting a clean audit is not something just for me, it's a district-wide effort. It starts at the building level and works up to the board office," Lorentzen said. "Everyone has a part in getting a clean audit and without the staff and administration doing the things they're supposed to do that would be very difficult to achieve."

The audit covered "the entire district," Gannon said, including business office, all of the schools, and departments including transportation, special education and student services.

"You have very conscientious employees that strive to do a great job each day," Gannon said. 

Lorentzen said that, though the audit is completed in June, his office is in contact with Gannon throughout the year to ensure they stay on top of any changes in the reporting process.

"Every year there seems to be something new for them to look at," he said.

Manchester's records are "always in great condition," Gannon said. "I have to say that this year they were in even better condition."

Still a concern was the township-managed, state-funded Regional Day School in Jackson, which last year saw a $230,000 drop in revenue, down from an average of $350,000 in previous years. 

"Certainly this year that's been leveled off," Gannon said, as cuts were made and some tuition rates were increased. "Still not very high," Gannon said, "but it's in a much better position than it was a year ago."

The district's fund balance as of June 2012 increased by $600,000 and sits at $1.4 million. 

"A large part of that is a state aid payment that was granted after the budget developed of $450,000, which the district has designated for this year's budget to meet certain state mandates," Gannon said. 

There is $965,000 in the unrestricted fund balance, the largest it has been since the 2007 fiscal year, Gannon said.

The capital project fund had $836,000 of unencumbered funds as of June 2012. 

"Certainly, the mold issue (at Manchester Township Middle School) may dwindle some of those funds, depending on what happens," Gannon said.

The audit also found no material weaknesses, which would entail district administrators missing important information. As for federal and state grants, the audit determined that Manchester properly uses the funds it receives. 

Gannon did warn that the district should stay vigilant that internal controls are kept in place, should employees leave.

"Change of personnel, change of circumstance could occur in any district," Gannon said. "It's not something to take for granted."

ikidunot October 22, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Toms River Regional Schools' audits were "clean" for years too. What's your point?
Dusty Walker October 22, 2012 at 12:33 PM
I get your point, but they have been getting these clean audits and awards over several different administrations now and for 16 years. And they do not use the same auditors as TR. I also have heard that Ritacco recommended his insurance buddies to other districts and at least the Manchester officials didn't bite on the sales pitch, unlike some other districts in Ocean and around the state. I believe they said they use the non-profit NJ Schools Boards Insurance Group for their insurance coverage. Nice job Manchester officials!

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