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School Board: Audit reveals clean district finances

Mary Reedy, principal with CliftonLarsonAllen, presents the Brainerd Public Schools fiscal year 2016 audit to the Brainerd School Board finance committee Tuesday afternoon. Spenser Bickett/Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd Public Schools received a clean bill of health from its auditing firm Tuesday afternoon.

A meeting of the Brainerd School Board finance committee consisted of a review of the district's 2016 fiscal year with Mary Reedy, principal with CliftonLarsonAllen, the district's auditing firm.

The audit resulted in a clean or unmodified opinion of the district's finances and accounting standards, Reedy said. She also noted there were no material weaknesses when it came to compliance and internal control over the city's financial reporting. The overall audit results were positive.

Auditors review internal accounting controls and test them, Reedy said. They also ask managers and employees in the district if there's any places with a higher fraud risk in the district, she said. Auditors can't test every transaction in the school district, but do some detailed review of transactions and test the process. Clean financial statements are helpful to the school board, she said.

"The financial information that the board's getting on a month-to-month basis, you know that it's reliable," Reedy. "You can make decisions based on that information."

Reedy and Steve Lund, director of business services for the district, also presented the board with a breakdown of the district's different funds, by looking at revenues, expenditures and more for the funds. Reedy noted the district had budgeted a surplus of about $116,000 in the food service budget, while the actual surplus was around $165,000. The fund previously operated at a deficit for two years, Lund said, but the district focused on getting the fund "back in black."

"Clearly revenue has played a part of it, but really it was a lot of expense control," Lund said.

Of all the revenues coming into the district for all funds, 69 percent is from state funding, Reedy noted. State funding isn't linked with federal funding, Lund said.

Looking at expenditures for all funds, 55 percent of expenditures go to instructional support. The district should be proud of the amount of funding it puts toward instruction, Lund said.

Salaries and benefits make up about 68 percent of the district's total expenditures, Reedy said. The district is in the "people business," Lund said, so it makes sense to put the bulk of resources toward people.

"We employ people that care for students," Lund said.

The committee unanimously recommended the full school board approve the fiscal year 2016 audit at its next meeting on Nov. 14.

The auditors' report stated the audit is conducted according to the auditing standards generally accepted in the United States and the standards applicable to financial audits contained in Government Auditing Standards, issued by the Comptroller General of the United States.

The published meeting notice for Tuesday's meeting said it was a meeting of the school board's finance committee, though all members of the board were present and not just the three members of the committee. After calling the meeting to order, committee chair Reed Campbell noted a quorum of the board may be present at the meeting.

Spenser Bickett

Spenser Bickett covers the Brainerd City Council and education. A native of the Twin Cities, Bickett attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he majored in journalism with a minor in political science. After graduation, he worked for the International Falls Journal as a staff writer before coming to Brainerd.

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