Reasons for a Full Forensic Audit
According to VA law there are three statutes currently in place to validate in-depth audits for the school division. I want you to know what they are to help you understand why I've been talking about this for a couple of years.
Va. Code § 15.2-2511. Audit of local government records, etc.; Auditor of Public Accounts; audit of shortages; civil penalty.
Va. Code § 22.1-115. System of accounting; statements of funds available; classification of expenditures.
The State Board, in conjunction with the Auditor of Public Accounts, shall establish and require of each school division a modern system of accounting for all school funds, state and local, and the treasurer or other fiscal agent of each school division shall render each month to the school board a statement of the funds in his hands available for school purposes. The Board shall prescribe the following major classifications for expenditures of school funds: (i) instruction, (ii) administration, attendance and health, (iii) pupil transportation, (iv) operation and maintenance, (v) school food services and other noninstructional operations, (vi) facilities, (vii) debt and fund transfers, (viii) technology, and (ix) contingency reserves.
Va. Code § 22.1-89. Management of funds.
Each school board shall manage and control the funds made available to the school board for public schools and may incur costs and expenses. If funds are appropriated to the school board by major classification as provided in Va. Code § 22.1-94, no funds shall be expended by the school board except in accordance with such classifications without the consent of the governing body appropriating the funds.
I believe there are many questions related to the school division's finances in terms of transparency. Yes, the school division puts out what is required by the state, but not necessarily what we as school board members need to better do our jobs. One of our keys roles as school board members is to oversee the finances in the school division.
There is still a ways to go when it comes to financial transparency, so I will continue to be an ambassador by ensuring that the appropriate spending of taxpayer dollars occurs. It is paramount that schools are not only funded well, but that the financial resources reach the intended target so that students have access to what they need to experience academic success and educators have the training, materials, and funding to deliver academic excellence to their students.
There are many strong reasons for a forensic audit, but one area that particularly stands out has to do with the purchasing cards utilized by the division. Currently, there are 60 or so of these purchasing cards in the hands of particular division employees. The purchasing cards are documented in the SPS division's monthly Bills and Payments reports as having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a month. However, according to the monthly statements there are no specific names attached to these monthly purchases. I believe it would be best practices to do a forensic audit of the school division. This would allow a closer look at any areas that are of concern when it comes to how the money is being spent so that a more circumspect approach can be utilized in achieving greater fiscal accountability.
Moving forward I will seek to do my part to determine what in the SPS finances can be improved, and then work towards equipping the division to make those improvements. While, I fully understand I have only one vote of seven in this process, it is my hope that the board as a whole will also desire to see the school division function to its fullest potential when in comes to all financial matters.