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E.P. Harney-Spirit of Excellence addresses audit report, performance scores at June board meeting

The board of E.P. Harney Spirit of Excellence Elementary met Monday night, June 18, to discuss the findings of their independent audit report, preformed by the firm of Roslyn J. Allen in Baton Rouge.

Melvin Davis, a certified public accountant with the firm, noted four issues with the school’s financial reporting procedures including a lack of oversight in payroll processing, missing documentation for expenses made on the school’s credit card, and non-compliance with a state law governing school activity funds.

“I didn’t see anything significant that would delay any further audits, and none of this should be a problem in the future,” Davis said. He noted that auditors next year will look to see that improvements are made regarding the issues in the report.

Davis also noted smaller issues the board can improve upon, including requiring two signatures on all school checks and noting all significant information in board meeting minutes. He pointed out that previously, important information like teacher bonuses and pay raises have been left off of official minutes.

Finally, Davis pointed out that the school filed its audit report late. State law requires that schools file their audit reports with the Office of Legislative Auditor within six months of the end of a fiscal year.

The board responded to the audit by outlining several steps that have already been taken to remedy some of the issues noted. Two signatures will be required on all school checks, and a second employee has begun verifying payroll to eliminate the opportunity for fraudulent paycheck reports.

Academically, E.P. Harney state standardized test scores showed improvement, raising the school’s state performance score from 68.4 in 2011 to 77.4. Tests showed a higher number of students, especially third graders, who tested in the “Mastery” and “Advanced” levels on state tests. This year, twenty-one third graders placed in the higher tiers for all subjects, compared to four in 2011.

The board voted to approve an addendum to the employee handbook, allowing for a maximum payout of twenty-five days of work to any teacher who resigns or is fired.

Also, accrued sick days will carry over from year to year. Both additions are in line with state norms.

Clinton Smith was the only board member absent from the meeting. Nick Berg sat in for Kirk Reasonover.

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