published Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe officials say accounting problem fixed

Catoosa County Board of Education annual financial report
Catoosa County Board of Education annual financial report

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School needed to strengthen its documentation of receiving money and making expenditures in the school activity account, a state audit found, but school district officials say training has been provided to fix the problem.

The Catoosa County school system serves about 10,400 students with a general fund budget of about $103 million, according to the state’s report, and “in general, the financial operations of the school district have remained strong in spite of experiencing continuing state revenue reductions.”

But the audit did find “inadequate internal control procedures over school activity accounts.”

School activity accounts are established to account for money used to support extracurricular and co-curricular student activities, which are separate from school funds for instruction and operations, according to the manual “Financial Management for Georgia Local Units of Administration.”

Audit findings included that receipts were not deposited in a timely manner, revenue was not recorded in the proper account and receipts lacked documentation.

Such findings are fairly common, said Ronnie Watson, director for the education audit division in the Georgia Department of Audits, especially in smaller school districts.

“Most schools keep a principal account that handles various small cash activities that take place in that school; it can be club money, drink sales money,” he said. “From an audit standpoint the more time you let money sit around, the greater the risk of something happening to it.”

Additional training was provided for school accounting personnel during the 2010-11 school year, according to Kim Nichols, assistant superintendent of finance for the school district.

Based on the system’s response, the Georgia Department of Education issued a clearance letter to the system on July 7, 2011, closing the audit finding, Nichols wrote in an e-mail.

“External audits ensure that financial reporting is materially accurate,” she wrote, adding that the school system earns high credit and bond ratings based on financial reports.

about Perla Trevizo...

Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...

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