Schools audit reports: No news is good news for Districts


It’s not the most dramatic of reports, but the annual audits of local school districts at least show good recordkeeping for construction projects.

The Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts (AOA) recently released its annual stack of audits for school construction projects. There were no negative marks for either the Indian River School District or Sussex Technical School District.

School districts that spent or held any major capital funds during 2018 fiscal year must submit a Schedule of Construction Projects, which meets the reporting standards of Delaware Code and other manuals. The auditor then expresses an opinion on the document.

“In our opinion, the Schedule of Construction Projects … presents fairly, in all material respects, the construction projects for the District for the year ended June 30, 2018,” the AOA reported for both IRSD and Sussex Tech. “Our examination disclosed no instances of noncompliance or other matters that are required to be reported under Government Auditing Standards.”

“Major capital improvement” is an official term that includes new buildings or major renovations. School districts must get several layers of approval, showing need to the State and passing a public funding referendum. (Sussex Tech and its counterparts aren’t required to go to public referendum, and must instead seek state legislative approval, but part of the funding still comes from local taxpayers.)

Tech spent the last of the funds for HVAC renovation ($5.6 million from 2013 and 2014) and instructional shop renovations ($6,831,600 from 2013 and 2014). To date, they’ve only spent about half of the $983,700 district office renovation funds from 2014.

IRSD depleted the last of its money allocated in 2015 for Georgetown Elementary renovations ($2,915,000) and Howard T. Ennis School improvements ($451,246).

All projects were funded 60/40 between the State and local taxpayers, except for those at Ennis, which is a 100-percent State funded school for special needs, managed by IR.

Both districts have previously experienced the brunt of critical AOA investigative audits. In 2016, the IRSD was accused of financial mismanagement and lack of oversight. In 2017, Tech was scolded for dodging State-requirements, and for overpaying for land and construction management, at taxpayers’ expense.

All reports are posted online at https://auditor.delaware.gov, titled “School Construction Examination Engagements.”

Nine school construction audits were completed this fall and released Dec. 4. The Delmar, Laurel, Seaford, Smyrna and Polytech school districts’ reports were similarly tame, although the Appoquinimink and Brandywine school districts were sent separate letters regarding “certain matters.”

 

By Laura Walter

Staff Reporter