Three area school districts in recent weeks have received favorable audit reports for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
According to audits presented recently to school boards in the Argyle, Aubrey and Ponder school districts, each district added money to its general fund reserves account.
Argyle schools added $252,779 to general fund reserves for the 2011-12 fiscal year, according to an audit report presented by Denton accounting firm Hankins, Eastup, Deaton, Tonn & Seay on Dec. 17. That brought the balance for the general fund to more than $5.2 million.
District officials attributed the increase in reserves to recovery money received for hail damage on district vehicles. The damage occurred in June. The fiscal year had three fewer workdays in August than the previous year, which also contributed to the increase.
The Argyle fiscal year runs from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31.
Hankins, Eastup, Deaton, Tonn & Seay issued an unqualified opinion for the district, signifying sound finances and identifying no findings.
“It was a great audit,” school board President Kevin Faciane said. “I think it really just validated our accounting practices in the district and the financial practices of the district.”
According to the audit, savings for the debt service fund increased by $388,849, bringing reserves to more than $1.6 million for the 2011-12 fiscal year. Savings for the child nutrition program increased by $44,121, and at the end of the fiscal year reserves totaled $136,547.
The school board in August approved a budget for the current fiscal year that included a more than $516,000 shortfall. In September, voters approved a 6-cent maintenance and operations tax rate increase, which district officials have said will help in absorbing the district’s deficit. Superintendent Telena Wright said last week that the district is within $17,000 of balancing its budget.
The Aubrey school district added $853,463 to its general fund reserves for the 2011-12 year, according to its recent audit report. The district closed the year with more than $6.9 million in general fund reserves.
Superintendent James Monaco said the district collected more in property taxes than it expected, and that played a large role in building the reserves.
“It was a good year,” Monaco said.
Aubrey’s fiscal year ran from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31.
Greenville accounting firm Rutherford, Taylor & Company P.C. issued Aubrey an unqualified opinion and identified no findings or areas of noncompliance in the 2011-12 audit.
Debt service reserves increased by $209,110 in 2011-12, and reserves in the fund totaled $987,513 at the close of the fiscal year, according to the report. A total of $29,551 in reserves was used from the food service fund, leaving reserves at $1, according to the report. Monaco said that was necessary to make up for a loss in that category for this year.
In August, the school board adopted a projected balance budget. Expenditures for the general fund budget are projected to total more than $17.5 million.
When the 2011-12 fiscal year ended Aug. 31, the Ponder school district added $664,406 to its general fund reserves, according to its auditors. That brought reserves to the district’s general fund to more than $11.3 million.
Superintendent Bruce Yeager attributed the reserves increase to a slight increase in student enrollment and tax collections in the 2011-12 year being more than 97 percent.
Finances for the 2011-12 fiscal year came in under budget, Yeager added.
“I’m always glad that we can come in under budget,” he said after the Dec. 20 meeting. “In today’s economy, if you can come in under budget it’s a blessing. We’re fortunate.”
Yeager said he realizes many school districts must use reserves to operate, and any year when Ponder can add money to its general fund savings is a blessing.
Ponder begins its fiscal year Sept. 1.
A representative from Hankins, Eastup, Deaton, Tonn & Seay told the board the firm found no areas of noncompliance.
But auditors noted that Ponder exceeded appropriations in the debt service fund by $225,212 due to a bond refinance. Yeager said the expenses related to the bond refinance last fiscal year exceeded the budgeted amount.
Auditors recommended the district “review expenditures and amend the budget as needed to make sure expenditures don’t exceed appropriations.”
The audit report also showed Ponder added $143,522 of savings to its debt service fund — which is used to pay the district’s debt — during the 2011-12 year, bringing the total balance for the debt service fund to more than $1.4 million. Reserves for the child nutrition program increased by $9,735, and savings at the end of the fiscal year totaled $128,682.
According to the audit report, Ponder faces a 6.5 to 7 percent decrease in state funding in the current fiscal year and student enrollment is expected to remain flat. Revenue totaling $12.7 million is available for general fund expenses, according to the audit — that’s $1 million fewer than the amount planned for 2011-12.
Yeager said that while the budget for the current year is “tight,” he’s hopeful the district will complete the year with a balanced budget.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .