Auditor’s Recommendations For School Districts Reads Like A Tribute To Joshua Powell And Montgomery County

Yesterday State Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen released 75 recommendations to “help school districts become more efficient and effective in their use of taxpayer dollars.”

From a release:

The recommendations are contained in a report that was developed based on findings during the Auditor’s office examinations of 21 school districts since 2012. Districts are not required to adopt all recommendations in the report; however, they are encouraged to review and identify recommendations that could be implemented in their districts to improve fiscal oversight, Auditor Edelen said.

“We identified several significant issues in recent school district examinations across the Commonwealth,” Auditor Edelen said. “Many of the lessons learned in those exams are contained in this report and should aid school boards, superintendents and district management in providing significant financial oversight and strong internal controls to maximize the fiscal operations of their districts.”

The report recommends ways to provide adequate financial oversight, prevent potential conflicts of interest, prevent wasteful spending and improve the protection of confidential student data. Further, the report recommends school boards establish budget and audit subcommittees to strengthen internal oversight.

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday welcomed the Auditor’s recommendations.

-SNIP-

The report also calls for boards to establish processes for district employees to submit concerns to the board about questionable activities, including the actions of the superintendent.

“No person should be at risk of losing his or her job for reporting a supervisors’ indiscretion. In each district there needs to be a clear policy in place that allows staff members to report their concerns,” Edelen said.

The huge list is broken down into quote a few categories:

  • Recommendations to Board to Provide Oversight
  • Recommendations to Board Related to Superintendent Contract and Expenditures
  • Recommendations to Board for Procurement
  • Recommendations to Board Regarding Travel Reimbursement
  • Recommendations to Board Regarding School District Vehicle and Gasoline Usage
  • Recommendations to Superintendents Regarding School District Operations
  • Recommendations to Management for Training
  • Recommendations to Management Impacting Human Resources and Payroll
  • Recommendations to Management Related to Procurement
  • Recommendations to Management Addressing Travel Reimbursement
  • Recommendations to Management Involving Vehicle Related Issues
  • Recommendations to Management Regarding IT Policies and Procedures
  • Recommendations to Management Involving Data Classification, Incident Handling, Outdated Software, and Vulnerability Recommendations
  • Recommendations to Management for the Sanitization of Surplus Technology Equipment
  • Recommendations to Management for System User Access
  • Recommendations to Management Regarding System Passwords
  • Recommendations to Management for System Configuration
  • Recommendations to Management for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans
  • Recommendations to Management Regarding Data and Document Retention
  • Recommendations to to Site Based Decision Making Councils to Develop Specific Policies and Procedures to Oversee Activity Funds

Some highlights:

  • We recommend the Board develop and distribute to all staff a policy detailing the process for district staff to submit concerns to the Board related to questionable activities impacting the district, including actions of the superintendent. This policy should allow for employees to report issues to the Board in a manner that will not jeopardize their employment.
  • The Board should adopt a comprehensive policy to address nepotism involving the employment and supervision of relatives in compliance with KRS 160.380.
  • We recommend the Board adopt a policy that the Superintendent report all personnel actions to the Board, as required by KRS 160.390.
  • The full Board, Board Chair, or a designated Board committee should review the Superintendent’s credit card purchases to ensure the transactions are reasonable in amount, necessary, and properly supported by receipts or other appropriate documentation. Due to credit card transactions not being readily transparent, it is imperative the Board review these transactions to be aware of all expenses related to the Superintendent.
  • All reimbursement requests submitted by the Superintendent to the district should be provided to the full Board, Board Chair, or a designated Board committee. The Board should require the District’s financial officer to conduct an initial review of the Superintendent’s reimbursement request, sign the request to document the review, and submit any concerns or issues to the Board before approval of the reimbursement request is made. The full Board, Board Chair, or a designated Board committee should review and document the approval or other action taken regarding the Superintendent’s requests for reimbursement and ensure the transactions are reasonable, necessary, and compliant with the contract.
  • We recommend the Board adopt the Kentucky Model Procurement Code and follow KRS 45A.385 for small purchases. This policy should require procurements in excess of $20,000 to be competitively bid or otherwise competitively procured to ensure the best and most economical selection is made. The policy should not allow split or divided purchases and projects to circumvent the bidding requirements for procurements in excess of $20,000.
  • The Board should pre-approve all out-of-state travel for the Superintendent, other district employees, and Board members, including travel for professional development.
  • The Superintendent should notify the full Board, Board Chair, or a designated Board committee when taking annual, sick, professional, or other leave for a scheduled contract work-day. The notification should be documented in writing.
  • To facilitate compliance with the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Accounting Procedures for Kentucky School Activity Funds, we recommend Site Based Decision Making Councils develop school specific policies and procedures to oversee activity funds. These policies and procedures should be designed to ensure financial transactions of the activity funds are properly accounted for, reported, and used for the benefit of the students. We also recommend that the Site Based Decision Making Council inform all external booster organizations of the requirements of activity accounts according to KDE’s Accounting Procedures for Kentucky School Activity Funds, as well as any school specific policies and procedures developed.

It’s like a tribute to everything Joshua Powell-related.

Click here (Warning: External PDF) to access the document.