Last week, the Lafayette Parish School System (LPSS) publicly presented the results of its 2021-2022 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR). Each year the district’s records, including the records of each school site, undergo internal and external auditing to ensure transactions are processed in compliance with federal and state law, as well as board policy. The district received the highest rating possible for a governmental entity from its external auditors.
A few findings did appear on the report and the majority were addressed prior to presentation of the ACFR through increased internal control measures, ongoing training opportunities, and hiring of additional staff to assist with administrative duties. Per the reporting auditor, “Of the 19 findings, six are duplicate for single audit purposes. Of the remaining 13, nine are resolved.” The remaining four are partially resolved and corrective action plans have been approved and implemented.
As with any large organization such as LPSS, it is anticipated that a percentage of findings will appear during an annual audit as a result of factors such as changes in federal and state reporting guidelines and employee turnover. For example, changes in audit and single audit requirements modified the procedures of which firms must adhere to when conducting certain tests. These new testing procedures allow for testing of records that are up to 30 years old.
One long standing audit finding is related to school fundraising. Due to the change in employment at some schools, new employees have to be trained on internal processes which includes money collections and fundraising. In 2022, LPSS hired two additional staff members to train school bookkeepers with reconciling money collections. After several months of training, these additional staff members have been traveling to various schools to help support and assist other bookkeepers. Auditors noted improvement in fundraising and money collections processes in schools when compared to previous years.
One transaction was discovered to have been recorded in 2022 instead of 2021. The timing of the recording of this transaction caused it to be considered a finding, but the transaction itself did not have any effect on the school system. The other 99.99% of all financial transactions were recorded in compliance with GAAP.
Another finding referenced background checks. LPSS does not hire any individual without conducting a background check. This has always been LPSS’s employment practice and the employment process cannot begin nor proceed without a cleared background check. The two background checks in question were several years old with one background check located during the course of the audit. The second background check in question was conducted in 2010 and outsourced to another agency during that time frame. LPSS received a document that displayed the background check was cleared for the individual, but did not have a hard copy of the official background check on file.
Surety bonds were also noted in the audit. LPSS has an existing crime policy that covers all check signers. The crime policy is superior to the surety bond, but current law does not reflect changes in existing insurance markets. To be in compliance, LPSS has purchased the lawfully required surety bonds, resulting in LPSS having to pay for twice the coverage and receive an audit finding.
At the conclusion of the audit process, LPSS received an unmodified opinion from the external auditors on our financial statements. An unmodified opinion is the highest rating a governmental entity can receive.