Audit reflects marked improvement

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LAPS finance staff reaping accolades from independent audit results

By Carol A. Clark

Praise and applause rang out for Business Manager John Wolfe and his staff during a recent school board meeting because of a much-improved independent auditor’s report.

“This is great, great news – just two (findings) – that’s a lot better then when I first came on the school board and there were 22 (findings),” said President Joan Ahlers during the meeting held in the Speech Theater at Los Alamos High School Sept. 24. “Thank you again to John Wolfe and our finance department.”

Griego Professional Services, LLC, conducted the audit, covering the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008. This was the first full year in which Wolfe and his financial team were completely in charge of the district’s financial operations. “This is the result of the great team we’ve got here who worked hard to achieve these results indicated in the audit,” Wolfe said during an interview Wednesday.

Superintendent Gene Schmidt said this morning he was very pleased with the independent audit report for the 2008 school year. “The audit report validates our efforts to build the important checks and balances in the financial operation of the district. It also offers a strong message of reassurance to the Los Alamos community that we are safeguarding the public’s funds,” Schmidt said. The audit detailed the following conditions in which a written response to the Public Education Department is required:

• Cash receipts – One of 20 receipts tested totaling $234 was not deposited within 24 hours of receipt as required by state law; and

• Exceeded budget authority – The district designated cash appropriations without adequate budget authority in non-major funds, major funds and business activities categories.

School board members unanimously approved Wolfe’s written response to the Public Education Department addressing each finding. Regarding cash receipts, Wolfe explained that the district’s business office has trained staff and implemented procedures to assure that every deposit is made within 24 hours or one banking day of receipt.

“Three employees are now trained to make deposits and the office has implemented a quick deposit process that allows deposits to be made directly from the office,” he said detailing the district’s responses to the audit report.

In regard to exceeded budget authority, Wolfe explained that the district’s transportation and food services divisions encountered revenue shortfalls in FY 07-08. He wrote in his response to the state that LAPS is establishing a budgetary review process that will take place before the PED’s budget adjustment deadlines at the end of the year.