Update: MTSD Response to Full Audit Report

Updated June 23, 2017

In recent days, there has been negative media attention surrounding the district in response to a press conference the PA Auditor General held on Monday (June 19) to discuss the results of the performance audit his office conducted of our district. There appears to be confusion with the alignment between the Auditor General’s comprehensive audit report (posted here) and the information presented during the Auditor General’s press conference. Our press release, posted on the district’s website Monday, June 19, was focused solely on the audit report generated by the Office of the Auditor General – not the press conference he facilitated that morning. We did not know that his press conference would address items outside of the audit report, so our press release did not speak to any of those additional things.

We received a copy of the comprehensive audit report on Friday, June 16, and were pleased with the Auditor General’s report. As noted in the cover letter from the Auditor General, the audit addressed four areas: (1) administrator contract buyout, (2) financial stability, (3) bus driver requirements, and (4) school safety. Out of these four areas, the report showed only one area of need (see page 5 of the audit), which related to administrator contract buyout. The other three areas – financial stability, bus driver requirements, and school safety, showed positive results. The Auditor General noted about each of these three areas that “our review of this objective did not disclose any reportable issues.” Seeing that these three areas showed positive results, especially given the time and focus dedicated to the financial stability component, we noted in our press release that we were pleased with the results. The district has also directed much time to the revision of the safety plan and procedures, and updating security systems, so receiving positive information about this component was another reason to be content with the report. Even though the district noted pleasure with the report, at no time was the district purporting a lack of acceptance of the one item that brought a finding by the Auditor General.

Regarding the one area in which the Auditor General issued the finding – “The Former Superintendent’s Separation Agreement Was Not Publicly Disclosed and Approved By the Board,” the Board of School Directors had already acknowledged this finding, as shown in the Management Response section (pages 8-10). Through the audit process, members of the Board and administration met with a designee from the Auditor General’s audit team to discuss the finding and the recommendations. The District concurred with the Auditor General’s finding that “the separation agreement of the former Superintendent was not publicly disclosed and approved by the Board of School Directors.” Discussion also included future planning for increased transparency and accountability to the public. The auditor referenced this on page 10 in the “Auditor Conclusion” section.

The district has heard from many residents who are questioning why his live press release (and written press statement) does not match the audit report. We have no answer to this; the district was also surprised by the Auditor General’s response because the actual audit report prepared by his office clearly and accurately outlines everything.  However, we hope this update provides clarity to the inquiries we have received regarding the alignment between the Auditor General’s comprehensive audit report, our response to the report, and his subsequent press conference. We also just received a carbon copy of a letter sent from the legal team associated with the separation agreement to the Auditor General (see copy here). This letter offers additional information to correspond with the one finding in the Auditor General’s comprehensive audit report.

Manheim Township School District will continue to move ahead in a positive direction to provide the best education for the students in our community.

 

 

Posted June 19, 2017

The Pennsylvania Department of Auditor General has completed a Performance Audit of Manheim Township School District, evaluating the District on best practices in areas of financial stability, governance and school safety, and the District’s compliance with relevant state laws. The full audit report is posted online and can be found here.

The comprehensive full performance audit began in October 2016, and involved the review of district procedures from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2016.  A performance audit focuses on program effectiveness and compliance with best practices, laws, regulations, and guidelines.  It also provides an objective analysis of information to help district management improve program operations and reduce costs.  A full performance audit reviews areas that may include, but are not limited to:

  • Financial position/stability,
  • School safety,
  • Governance,
  • Academic performance,
  • Contract management and monitoring,
  • Administrator contract buyouts,
  • Transportation subsidies, contracts, and bus driver qualifications,
  • Hiring practices,
  • Teacher and administrator certification,
  • Student transportation data collection and reporting,
  • Enrollment and attendance data collection and reporting, and
  • Sunshine Act and Ethics Act compliance.

The final report of the District’s performance audit found that Manheim Township School District has applied best practices in all areas listed above, and the district has complied with all state requirements, except in the area of administrator contract buyouts.

“We are pleased to announce, and happy to report to our community, that the Manheim Township School District has demonstrated financial stability, applied best practices, and are in compliance with state requirements according to the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Office.  Our staff worked closely with the auditors over the last several months as they reviewed the district’s daily operations and procedures, school safety, budget management, and overall financial stability,” stated Superintendent Dr. Robin Felty.

“Given that school safety remains a top priority for the District, we are very pleased with the continued findings during the safety review component of the audit. The District’s visitation policies, locked doors and restricted access procedures, and emergency plan promote student safety. With ongoing attention to school safety nationwide, the District continues to enforce safety practices in all schools, particularly relating to school access procedures and monitoring of security systems.”

“This has been a long, but successful road for this District and the current School Board,” stated MT School Board President, Mark Anderson.  “Our community has rallied together to show positive support for the Board and School District that, as this final full performance audit shows, had unwarranted negative reporting by local media. The District Administration worked closely with the PA Auditor Generals Office, providing the information that was needed to show best practices and to conduct the full audit.  I am proud of how thoroughly this District continues to operate in the best interest of Manheim Township students.”

According to the audit, the only area that the district demonstrated lack of compliance was with administrator contract buyouts.  Manheim Township School District failed to publicly post the settlement agreement of a former superintendent who submitted a resignation before the superintendent’s contract end date.  The audit finds that the settlement agreement should have been posted to a School Board Agenda since it was voted on during a public School Board Meeting. The district agrees with the Auditor General’s report that the separation agreement should have been publicly posted on the Board Agenda.  However, school board directors and administrators who were working in the District Office at the time were following legal recommendations pertaining to Board procedures, and were unaware that the actual separation agreement needed to be posted on the Board agenda.

In the past year, the Board of School Directors has made significant changes and improvements to the public operations of the School Board, including but not limited to:

  • The physical set-up of the Boardroom was redesigned to be more conducive for audience members to see the School Board directors and view presentations clearly.
  •  “Community Conversations with the School Board” events were held monthly as community drop-in sessions at our District Office on a designated Saturday from 10:00 am-12:00 pm. These sessions are informal, informational, and conversational in nature to provide our community the opportunity to meet with members of the School Board and discuss important topics related to our schools.  The drop-ins are facilitated on the Saturday morning between the School Board Work Session and the School Board Meetings (typically the second Saturday of the month). The “Community Conversations with the School Board” events will continue to occur during the 2017-2018 school year.
  • The Board of School Directors revised Policy #005-Meetings to improve the structure of the School Board agenda. In order to provide a more consistent and concise agenda for the public to follow, changes were made regarding how an item is pulled and openly discussed.

As required, the Manheim Township School District receives an independent annual audit of the financial records each year. For at least the past twenty years, the district has continually received clean audit reports from the local independent auditors. In addition, the Auditor General conducted a Limited Procedures Engagement audit in 2015 and found the District to be in strong financial position through a review of its internal controls, budgeting practices, and compliance with the Right to Know law and the Sunshine Act.

 

2017                                                                # # #