By Angelo Parlove
Plante and Moran, the state’s largest public accounting and business advisory firm, completed the audit of the Saline Area Schools last month and did not make any adjustments or find any control issues during the process.
“It’s a compliment to [Assistant Superintendent of Finance] Janice Warner and her staff and what their doing with the books and records,” said Jeffrey Dolowy, a partner at Plante and Moran. “The books and records are in very good shape.”
In addition, Plante and Moran also issued an unqualified opinion on the audit.
“An unqualified opinion might not sound that great, but it actually is the highest level of assurance that we can render on an audit,” Dolowy said. “So we have an unqualified opinion, no adjustments and no internal control issues, so that’s probably about the highest mark you can get.”
Dolowy also pointed out it is rare to complete an audit, which inspects the district’s financial statements and each major fund, and not find needed adjustments or control issues. “It really is more of an anomaly than the rule,” he said. “Typically when we do an audit we typically have a couple of journal entries or something that pops up where we have a significant deficiency.”
Plante and Moran presented their reports from the audit to the school board at its Nov. 8 meeting. “From your perspective, I think that’s important because your making decisions on information that you can rely on,” Dolowy told board members. “It’s reliable information as you’re going throughout the year.”
The current audit, which was for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, shows general fund revenues of over $54.8 million, which is about a one percent decrease from the previous year, if you adjust for large one-time revenue payments in 2015. The general fund is the primary operating fund for the district.
The audit also showed general fund expenditures in 2015-2016 of over $55.9 million, which was also up from the previous year, mostly from increased personnel salaries. Overall, the general fund budget then showed a deficit of over $1.07 million for last fiscal year.
After looking at other financing sources, the general fund balance dropped $712,165 to about $3.18 million. Compared to other district’s, the general fund balance at Saline Area Schools is below the state average.
“Historically speaking, the district has always focused on putting more dollars into the classroom, having a robust set of programs, things of that nature,” Dolowy said. “It’s tough to have both a lot of programs and lot of fund balance. You just don’t see that happening.”