By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
The Cullman County Board of Education received a clean audit for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, though some minor areas of concern were noted by the State of Alabama.
The system’s overall accounting principals received an unqualified opinion, meaning the auditor believes the financial statements fairly represent the financial position of the school system.
“There were no instances of non-compliance,” state examiner of public accounts Ashleigh Hamilton said.
Though the audit found no major problems, the 91-page report did note some issues with the system’s accounting practices.
Issues cited include a failure to follow proper procedures for purchase orders at local schools, with blank purchase orders signed or proper orders not signed by the correct person. Failure to follow proper procedures for teacher receipts at local schools were also noted, as well as instances of leaving negative fund balances in local school activities accounts at the end of the school year.
Despite the minor issues, Superintendent Billy Coleman said he was proud of his staff for garnering the largely positive report.
“It was good and we were very pleased,” he said. “There are always going to be a few things that will turn up when you’re dealing with such a large system, but you put a plan in place to address them and move forward. We were very appreciative to the good job all our bookkeepers do keeping up with a monumental amount of paperwork.”
Looking toward the future of the system, the report noted several factors that could bode well for continued financial stability in 2013 and beyond. The new, countywide half-cent sales tax will generate approximately $3 million per year in new revenue, which will be used to supplement instructional programs, technology, facility improvements and support for local schools. The rebounding economy should also help, with an increase of approximately $100,000 expected in property tax revenue.
Though systemwide enrollment has dipped the past several years, the slide has slowed considerably in the current school year, leading officials to believe enrollment may have finally stabilized. Enrollment dropped by approximately 400 students over the past five years, resulting in the loss of over 30 teacher units and $2 million dollars in funding. The system recently opened for out-of-district enrollment and officials say projections are optimistic for next year.
Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.