Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ottawa school finances earn auditor’s praise

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 1/20/2014

If financial auditors issued grades instead of opinions, the Ottawa school district would have received an A-plus for the 2012-2013 school year — with no deficiencies to report in the audit.

“Really, this year, for the most part, there wasn’t much of a significant change from the previous year,” Harold Mayes, a certified public account with Agler & Gaeddert Chartered, 234 S. Main St., Ottawa, told Ottawa school board members last week.

If financial auditors issued grades instead of opinions, the Ottawa school district would have received an A-plus for the 2012-2013 school year — with no deficiencies to report in the audit.

“Really, this year, for the most part, there wasn’t much of a significant change from the previous year,” Harold Mayes, a certified public account with Agler & Gaeddert Chartered, 234 S. Main St., Ottawa, told Ottawa school board members last week.

The only significant change, Mayes noted, was growth in the school district’s capital outlay fund.

“Cash to cash, if you look at the first of the year to the end of the year, you were up about $2.4 million, and almost all of that occurred in the capital outlay fund,” Mayes said.

Mayes attributed the growth to a nearly $2.6 million lawsuit settlement the school district received from Manning Construction Co., a Kansas City metro-area contractor that was in charge of constructing Lincoln Elementary School, 1102 N. Milner Road, and undertaking a major renovation project at Garfield Elementary School, 1213 S. College St., in 2005. The district filed a lawsuit against Manning and some of its subcontractors over what it deemed to be faulty work — citing leaks in the roofs and cracking in the floors of both schools within a year of the two projects’ completion.

The settlement, approved by the school board in April 2013, was reflected in the district’s capital outlay fund, Mayes said.

“It shows a reimbursed refund of $2.573 million, and that’s the lawsuit, which resulted in that particular [capital outlay] fund having receipts over expenditures of $2.4 million,” Mayes said, “and actually showed growth in that fund from $1.8 million to $4.3 million.”

The capital outlay growth is temporary, however, because the district plans to spend that settlement to make needed repairs to the two elementary schools, school board members have said.

“We’re going to spend that $2.5 million, in case you were wondering,” Bill Allegre, school board member, told Mayes, eliciting a smile from the auditor.

“I figured that would come in handy,” Mayes said.

With regard to the rest of the audit, Mayes said the district showed no deficiencies and was in compliance with all state and federal guidelines.

Jeanne Stroh, Ottawa superintendent, credited Teri George, the district’s financial director and treasurer, for keeping the financial operations running smoothly.

“Thanks to Teri and her staff for doing such a great job,” Stroh said.

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