Having read through this Audit three times, I am disappointed that this is all we received.
Much like the Student Activity Account Audit that wasn’t followed through on, I feel the motion for this Audit, a comprehensive and independent audit be conducted and completed over the next few weeks for a fuller understanding of the budget concerns wasn’t completely done.
Especially when I read: We did not conduct an investigation or internal control review or assessment. Any internal controls discussed in the report were included to describe the processes and procedures in place related to the areas we reviewed.
While this Audit report solidified my concerns over the finances, in my view it doesn’t offer enough specific information regarding how this was allowed to happen. I expected much more information and specifics on missing procedures and policies. I expected more information on how long it took to put this together because information was scattered and not centrally located and ways to correct this but that wasn’t in this report.
I don’t think there’s much more information here than we already knew from our own new Asst Superintendent of Finance but since it’s from a 3rd Party maybe some School Committee members and City Councilors will finally see the fiscal malfeasance and dire fiscal state we are in.
I also think there seems to be an undue negative influence by regarding our own School Committee Attorney and I think Attorney Hall is owed an apology. The last School Committee approved an expanded role and I’m told Attorney Hall provides invoices to justify hours worked and billed. One thing that has become crystal clear to me in the past year is School Committee’s need their own Lawyer and this attack on Mr. Hall who the authors of this report don’t list as being someone they interviewed, shows a lack of professionalism and opens the door to ask if this was totally bias free.
The Audit does point out that the city auditor bears some of the responsibility for the way things are financially for allowing some things that should have been rejected or at least questioned. Considering the poor shape of the city’s finances maybe Councilors who seemed determined to interfere in School Committee business should look at their own side of the house and address issues with one of 3 employees they are responsible for.
Above all I think for the amount of time and money it took, to receive ONLY 20 pages in this format, with this information, it was a waste of taxpayers money and the School Committee and School Departments time.
What troubled me the most was this blanket statement;
The results of our procedures also identified a significant lack of internal controls surrounding accounts payable, payroll, budgeting, journal entries and transfers, and procurement, which resulted in the 2018 general fund LPSD appropriation (budget) being over spent by approximately $1.4 million.
Yet they didn’t go into details or provide direction of what lack of internal controls surrounding accounts payable, payroll, budgeting, journal entries and transfers, and procurement existed if any or what we should put into place to prevent this from happening again, thankfully our new Asst Superintendent of Finance is putting these safeguards into place and will explain at the upcoming Finance Subcommittee meetings what lack of processes and procedures were in place and what she has implemented to provide more controls and accountability.
The report also states :
The previous Assistant Superintendent of Finance/School Business Administrator, Gary Frisch, inappropriately held himself out as a Certified Public Accountant. This was evidenced by his resume included in his personnel file and certain communications to the School Committee. See the “Introduction and Background” section of this document, beginning on page 8, for additional details.
While that is troubling it fails to pinpoint exact areas where his lack of oversight or his actions specifically contributed to the financial mess. There is no doubt he was in over his head but the lack of being a CPA alone didn’t cause this financial mess.
I’m glad a 3rd party provides the same information we have brought forward and discussed but am disappointed it didn’t include much more and considering how long it took and the cost involved, receiving only 20 pages of information we mostly already knew and stated it wasn’t what I expected or hoped for.