State auditor gives Austintown schools a passing grade

By Elise Franco

AUSTINTOWN — The township school district manages more than $39 million annually and passed its annual state audit with no major snags, its treasurer says.

The audit was released by Mary Taylor, state auditor. “They come in and do a random sampling of different things,” said district Treasurer Barb Kliner. The audit period was July 1, 2007, to May 30, 2008.

The district employs 220 noncertified staff members and 344 certificated staff members.

At the end of fiscal 2007-08, the district’s total revenues equaled more than $39.8 million. Expenditures increased by nearly $1 million, however, giving the district a deficit of $1,302,365.

Superintendent Doug Heuer said because of carryover of more than $4 million from previous years, the district’s total budget at the end of that fiscal year was $3.3 million.

“Three years ago, we had our Blue Ribbon Audit, which recommended we could save $1.2 million per year,” he said. Heuer said the district’s revenues haven’t increased substantially, but expenditures have been cut significantly.

“We’ve been reducing spending by $2 million for the last four years, which is how we’ve generate so much carryover,” he said.

Some of the district’s major expenditures are instruction, which was $24.4 million, and support services, $14.5 million. Operation of noninstructional services, extracurricular activities and facilities acquisition and construction make up the remainder of the district’s expenses.

Kliner said the auditor may pick out random checks and track them back to the original documentation to check for signatures and make sure all the checks cleared through the bank. She said they also look for suspicious activity.

She said payroll records and revenue are reviewed.

“They follow what they call an audit trail to see if we’ve crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s,” Kliner said.

Kliner said a good audit will include recommendations on what the district could do to improve itself. She said the recommendations were minor.

“One of the things that we had started doing because of time constraints was we had some of our principals using rubber stamps instead of signing their name,” Kliner said. “We were told we couldn’t do that.”

She said overall, the benefit of an audit is that the district is able to have a fresh set of eyes look everything over.

“A lot of times, the audit will catch things we’re not aware of,” Kliner said. “We have to make sure we modify that for the next time.”

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