Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hickman Mills C-1 Undergoes State Audit Input from staff, board and residents sought


by Mary Kay Morrow
The Hickman Mills C-1 School District is being audited by the state.
Audit Manager Todd Schuler from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office announced last Thursday the state will conduct an audit of Hickman Mills for the 2011-12 academic year just now wrapping up.
“The Hickman Mills School District has been selected to go through an audit by the Missouri State Auditor’s office,” Schuler said. “At this point, we really don’t have an agenda, per se, as to what we plan to look at.”
As of Monday, Senior Auditor Rick Stuck began the Hickman audit process by coming into the district with a team of two or three people to do survey work, meet with administrative staff, talk about policies and procedures, and ultimately put together an audit plan.
Schuler explained the decision to audit the C-1 was not based on concerns about the district.
“Most of the time, audits like this are brought about by concerns that are expressed by citizens or the petition process.  That’s not the case here,” Schuler said.
He said that although the district has struggled on the financial side the past couple of years, it is not to the point of major concerns.
“As far some financial reporting information, comparatively, it looked like this might be a district that might be looked at from our office,” Schuler said – adding that decisions regarding which districts are audited are made in Jefferson City above his level.
The State is currently conducting several St. Louis-area audits, recently completed an audit in Springfield, and has done others in past years. 
“We just finished an audit of the Kansas City School District in 2011.  We audited Grandview - probably five or six years ago.  And I did an audit of the Liberty School District several years ago,” Schuler said.
The scope of the C-1 audit will be the year ended 6-30-12. 
“We try to focus on the most recent time period,” Schuler said.  “That’s not to say that we will not possibly look into something that’s happened in the near past.”
Once the audit team completes its report, they will review it with the board in a closed setting, “which is allowable under the Sunshine Law - to make sure we have everything accurate, that there are no mistakes, and make clarifications,” Schuler said.
After that, audiors will ask the board to respond to their recommendations before releasing a final report to the public.
“The whole audit will culminate with the release of a public report that will include any recommendations that we make,” Schuler said.
How long the audit will take depends on what the team finds once they get started.
Schuler hopes they have something by the end of this calendar year but admits that’s a guess.
“We don’t have an end date,” Schuler explained.  “I’m not exactly positive how long this will take. Typically an audit of this nature can take anywhere from two to four months as far as fieldwork goes.  And then we have to go through a report process.”
He went on to say that if they don’t find a lot of issues, they’ll wrap things up - but if they find some concerns, it may take longer.
“But in the end, we will report what we have found, the items that we deem to be of interest and need to be reported publicly,” Schuler said.
Schuler invited board members and administrative staff to contact him to discuss “issues, concerns, areas that you would like us to take a look at, provide some input, and possibly make some recommendations on ways that we can improve policies and procedures, or controls, here in the Hickman Mills School District.
“We would love to sit down,” he said.  “By all means, give me a call.”
The state would also like to get as much input as possible from citizens with areas of concern.
“For citizens, if anyone has any issues as well from a citizen’s standpoint, by all means, I would urge everyone to contact our office,” Schuler said.
“If you go to our website, there’s a hotline where you can get in touch with me. My name is Todd Schuler.  The website is www.auditor.mo.gov”

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