Several exceptions were noted in audits of the four senior high schools in Webster Parish, but as one school board member put it, “…the best news is that there’s no money missing.”
In audit language, exceptions are instances where proper accounting policy or procedure is not followed in the handling of funds. While schools auditor Margie Williamson pointed to exceptions at all four schools, she said the overall audit results have been acceptable.
At a special meeting of the Webster Parish School Board Monday, Williamson said information gleaned from the audits has been discussed in detail with principals, assistant principals, school secretaries plus all club sponsors and coaches.
“If they’re responsible for an account they had a separate meeting, plus we had the exit conference with each principal individually,” she said in response to a question concerning the audit exceptions. “We went into detail in each meeting and (those handling accounts) asked a lot of questions.”
In addition to the exit conferences, Williamson said parish finance director Crevonne Odom had conducted in-service sessions with those who are responsible for handling the various accounts in the schools.
School board president Charles Strong said he had “grave concerns” that board policies governing the handling of funds had been put in place in 2009 and audit exceptions were still found in significant numbers.
“Policies are absolutely critical, essential and necessary but until you follow them you don’t have anything,” he said. “My concern would be that we have the methodology in place to ensure implementation of the original policies as well as corrective measures that the campuses have provided.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls said situations have been created where in-house procedures must be put in place for corrective measures.
“We have a staff here of accounting people who have the knowledge and skill to do this type of work (audits),” he pointed out. “We’re going to go to schools randomly, unannounced, to audit and report to Mrs. Odom and me what they find. You can’t be reactive, you have to be proactive.”
Rawls said he wants to make sure all school administrative personnel understand that the board’s policies concerning the handling of funds are followed.
“What value is a policy if you’re not going to use it?” he asked. “We hope to have a much better picture for you next year.”