In a partial audit released this month, the Florida State Auditor’s Office found no significant lapses when it comes to the district’s finances for the 2015-16 fiscal year that ended June 30.
School Board Chairman John Dick welcomed the news, but cautioned that unlike in years past the state didn’t do a complete operational audit due to cutbacks and instead focused on the district’s handling of federal funds.
“Let’s face it, we’re going in the right direction,” Dick said Tuesday. “We’re in good financial health. The partial audit was spotless.”
The clean audit means the state didn’t make any recommendations for improvement or correction, but Dick said they could always come back at a later date with new findings.
“We did not identify any deficiencies in internal control that we consider to be material weaknesses. However, material weaknesses may exist that have not been identified,” according to the report signed by State Auditor Sherrill Norman Dec. 6 and presented to the School Board Dec. 13.
Superintendent Mark Porter called the results outstanding and gave credit to Finance Department Director Jim Drake and his staff.
“We have come a long way over the past four years to restore the financial stability and accountability of the Monroe County Schools,” Porter said in a statement last week.
Also this month, the district announced it had received A-plus and A-1 ratings from Fitch Rating and Moody’s Investors Service that will allow it to obtain a lower borrowing cost to meet upcoming construction financing through issuing sales tax revenue bonds.
In the Florida Keys, which had an elected superintendent until the 2009 Monique Acevedo embezzlement scandal in which $415,000 went missing and was later found to have been spent largely on frivolous luxuries by the former administrator hired by her then-husband Randy Acevedo, the latest state audit is grounds for celebration.
After the Acevedo meltdown, which sent Monique to prison and Randy, who was the superintendent, to probation, state auditors zeroed in on the district’s financial controls with great scrutiny. Administrators and the School Board spent years rebuilding the district’s reputation and installing financial controls such as monitoring staff spending with a number of checks and balances.
The district, which runs 16 schools across the island chain and employs 1,100 people, as of June 30, had $255.9 million more in assets than liabilities, the state report found, and total debt decreased by $12.6 million, or 23.5 percent, due to scheduled debt service.
School’s still out
Monroe County public schools are closed through Jan. 6 and Jan. 9 is a professional day and students won’t attend. Classes resume Jan. 10.
The School Board meets next Jan. 10 at Marathon Middle/High School starting with a 3 p.m. workshop before a 5 p.m. meeting.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen