Seven Orleans Parish School Board’s credit card transactions in the 2012-2013 school year lacked adequate documentation, and one charge was unauthorized, according to a recent audit report.

Auditors noted the credit card problems after sampling 98 financial transactions out of the thousands run up in a year.

Auditors came up with three additional criticisms of the parish school board records:

  • Failure to release last year’s budget 15 days before voting on it, in violation of state budget laws for public agencies.

  • Failure to amend the board’s budget after general fund revenues fell 7.6 percent below budgeted projections. (State law requires that boards amend budgets when actual revenues are significantly less than projected.)

  • Inconsistencies between personnel files and the information on a list provided to auditors by the school board that purported to show the experience levels for 19 of 25 principals, assistant principals and teachers.

The audit, conducted by the LaPorte accounting firm, was released today on the school board’s website. In response to the findings, school board officials said that they have already changed policy to require that anyone using the school board charge cards get pre-approval and provide full documentation to support the transaction.

School board comptroller Wayne Delarge said the transactions auditors questioned were mainly for airfare, and the total cost of all the transactions was about $3,300. Delarge said about half of that is related to a trip McMain students took to a robotics competition. The transaction that wasn’t authorized was for $65.

That’s out of $43 million total that the district spent in that year, and the $64,000 it racked up through use of the school board’s three charge cards, Delarge said.

The school board’s budget was advertised publicly on Sept. 3, 2012, and the board approved it on Sept. 13, 2012, auditors noted. OPSB staff submitted a paid public notice to The Times-Picayune on Aug. 29, 2012, but Hurricane Isaac delayed its publication, staff said.

And, while school board officials acknowledged a failure to amend their budget to reflect the revenue shortfall, they noted that expenses also came in lower, by 7 percent, which led to a positive fund balance for the year.

Regarding the discrepancy in the way staff experience levels were listed, officials blamed the data system they tapped to produce the document. The data system  automatically restated an employees’ years of service to reflect their salaries, no matter how many years that person had actually worked. The district said it plans to upgrade its data system to eliminate the automatic years-of-experience adjustment.

The school board will review the audit during its budget and finance committee meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday at the School Board offices on General De Gaulle Drive.

Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her...