Need due to recent audit findings, new requirements
In response to increased requirements from the legislative auditor, as well as findings from recent audits, the Webster Parish School Board has created a new purchasing agent/internal auditor position.
The position, approved by the board at the April 23 meeting, will report to Crevonne Odom, director of business and finance. Odom said new state requirements created a need for a position dedicated to fulfilling them.
“The Louisiana legislative auditor has handed down stricter rules as far as how we go about purchasing,” she said.
“We have to keep up with more things now, so it’s a little more time-consuming. And if we don’t have policies and procedures written for our internal control for each department, we can get cited and possibly lose some of our federal money as well as some of our MFP money. So it’s basically to address a need that was placed on us by the legislative auditor.”
As reported in the April 24 edition, the school board also revised the 2017-2018 budget at the Monday meeting, citing reduced state MFP (Minimum Foundation Program) funding. Odom said part of the need for this new position is to ensure each school meets state audit guidelines.
“Every year we have an external audit, and our auditors tell us that certain schools have not adhered to the policies and procedures,” she said. “So in order to make them accountable, we’re looking to have an internal auditor to be able to go out into the schools more, to be a liaison with the principals, to do some one-on-one training with the secretaries and teachers responsible for collecting money.”
The board’s latest audit report, issued April 4, can be viewed online on the Louisiana Legislative Auditor website. A portion of the report says “personnel at schools were unaware of proper procedures in some instances and not following proper procedures in other instances… we recommend that central office personnel do site visits to ensure that the proper procedures are followed.”
Like all accounting positions, the new purchasing/internal auditor position’s pay will come out of the general fund. Superintendent of Schools Johnny Rowland said the cost of the position will be more than offset by the benefits it will provide.
“We have to be good stewards in every aspect to make sure we minimize errors the best that we can, which of course would minimize findings in the audits that we go through,” he said. “I believe in the long run that the money saved and the efficiency provided will be a long-term benefit for the district.”
The position was approved with three opposing votes from John Madden, Ronnie Broughton, and Penny Long. Opposing discussion included concern over the perception that the school board’s central office is becoming too “top-heavy.”
Madden also expressed concern that the board would be unable to find someone suitable as both an auditor and purchaser, as the jobs require different skill sets.
Among other benefits, Rowland said the new position would allow Odom more time to focus on her duties as finance director.
“In the long run, I think the creation of this position will serve us so well, make us more efficient and better stewards of our money,” he said.