According to the 2012 Final Audit Report released on the school district’s website, no evidence of any mismanagement was found.
The findings mirrored those presented to the school board at its October meeting.
Christian Hatch of Williamson & Co. Certified Public Accounting firm, the independent auditor who reviewed the school district’s financial records, issued an “unqualified” opinion Tuesday.
Cherokee School District spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said Wednesday Hatch reviewed the fiscal 2011 audit findings as part of his fiscal 2012 audit.
Unqualified is the best opinion an auditor can issue, which indicates the auditor found the district’s financial statements were prepared using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, complied with statutory requirements, adequately disclosed information relevant to statutory requirements, and properly shoed any changes in accounting principles and the effects thereof.
“Mr. Hatch examined the findings from the previous fiscal year — fiscal 2011 — audit as part of his review and noted that four of the six findings — none of which rose to the level of being ‘qualified,’ which means of significant concern — were resolved in fiscal 2012, with changes made in fiscal 2013 to resolve the final two. The fiscal 2013 audit, which Mr. Hatch also is conducting, should be completed by early next year,” Jacoby said. “The report continues the school district’s long history of unqualified audits with no evidence of any mismanagement.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said the district is dedicated to being transparent and a good steward of tax dollars.
“Candler Howell, CCSD Assistant Superintendent for Financial Management, and his staff are focused on strong stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” Petruzielo said. “The public can see how their tax dollars are being wisely used to fulfill our primary mission of teaching and learning.”
On the district’s Open Government Project website, three years of annual budgets, independent audits, monthly financial reports and other documents are available to the community.
The Open Government Project can be accessed through the district’s main website, at www.cherokee.k12.ga.us. A link to the archive can be found in the left column on the home page, at the bottom of the column.
At its October meeting, the board voted to spend $1,280, including preparation, travel and one hour of presentation time by the fiscal 2011 audit firm Mauldin & Jenkins, including 15 minutes for follow-up questions from board members.
The proposal to bring back the 2011 auditor was made by School Board member Michael Geist, who agreed to make the request after months of fellow School Board member Kelly Marlow questioning the 2011 audit report without making an official motion to bring the auditor back for an additional presentation.
School Board Chair Janet Read said at the October meeting the board had been discussing the 2011 audit since May, and since the auditor would be at the meeting for an hour, questions needed to be submitted before the meeting.
The deadline to submit questions for the 2011 auditor to answer at his presentation was set for Nov. 20, and Jacoby said the district had received Marlow’s questions.
Though Marlow repeatedly claimed to have “seven pages” of audit questions, Jacoby said she “received about three pages of questions for the auditor from Ms. Marlow.”
Marlow also posted her 25 questions at an online blog called “Audit Cherokee: Seven-plus pages,” which can be found at http://www.auditcherokee.com/.
On Wednesday, Read said she had the opportunity to speak with the 2011 auditor on the phone June 13, and the auditor indicated there was no sign of any error or fraud.
“I did not submit any audit questions, I know we all had the opportunity and were given advance notice, but I had the chance to speak with the auditor back in June, and he answered the questions that I had,” Read said. “There’s no money missing, there wasn’t anything unethical and he didn’t show any concern. So, that was enough for me, and that’s been enough for me since I had the opportunity to speak with him.”