LL Schools receive an unqualified 2011-12 audit

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Los Lunas Schools received another top audit rating this year for the annual report required by the state. The Los Lunas Board of Education approved the 2011-12 audit release at its meeting last week.

“The audit of finances of Los Lunas Schools was an unqualified opinion, the best opinion that we can provide you,” said J.J. Griego, managing partner of Griego Professional Services, LLC, who performed the district’s audit.

This strengthens the district’s position with Moody’s Investors Service, the bond credit rating business. It could potentially raise the district’s credit rating if reserves and the fund balance can be raised.

This is difficult to do when the budget undergoes cuts, or enrollment decreases, both of which have challenged Los Lunas Schools over the past few years.

Although the state doesn’t require a certain percent of the total budget in a cash balance, Moody likes a cash balance of 10 percent, said Claire Cieremans, Los Lunas Schools chief financial officer.

“Actually, our fund balance increased, and our cash on-hand also increased ending June 30,” Cieremans said. “We do make a conscious effort to try to continually build the reserve and fund balance.”

The fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30, and the district has to have entered into an agreement with an outside auditor shortly thereafter. The audit is due to the state auditors by Nov. 15.

In the audit process, the district sends its financial reports to the auditor who evaluates and tests the data.

“We’ve performed over 30 of the school districts in the state,” Griego said. “Over the years, we’ve performed the (audits for the) majority of school districts throughout the state.”

There are three components of the audit that the auditors work on: the federal programs portion, internal controls and the auditor’s report, he said.

The district contracts with the auditor to prepare its financial statements, and when they are completed, the auditor spends about two weeks with the financial department staff who provide all the vouchers, payroll files and receipts to verify the financial information.

The district was gigged with only two minor findings.

“You can have material weakness, you can have significant deficiency, and you can have other matters,” Griego said. “These are other matters, so they are very minor. I call them strike ones.”

There are always findings in an audit, he said, no audit has zero findings.

One of the findings was an error on a function category, and the other finding involved timeliness of deposits.

“It’s a minor item that comes up quite often (in school audits),” Griego said.

When money is received by a school on a Friday, it can be challenging to get the money deposited within 24 hours.

All the district schools’ secretaries receive annual training emphasizing the importance of making deposits within 24 hours, said Cieremans.

The total budget for the district is a little more than $100 million, and expenditures were almost $92 million, she said.

A copy of the 2011-12 audit will be available to the public on the district’s website at www.llschools.net.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.