Stephens County School Superintendent Bryan Dorsey says that staff has discovered accounting errors that are leaving the school system unsure about all of its financial numbers heading into a new budget year.
Dorsey discussed the matter with Stephens County Board of Education members at their meeting on Tuesday.
He says that the accounting errors were discovered while working on the Fiscal Year 2015 budget.
Dorsey says those errors actually date back to Fiscal Year 2013.
“We have had some challenges (working on the budget) due to some accounting errors,” said Dorsey. “The board was working with a number of around $800,000 in reserve funds as they began Fiscal Year 2013. Unfortunately, when that was all settled, it was actually that the school system was in a deficit of almost $800,000, approximately $1.6 million difference in what the Board thought they had from what were the actual numbers.”
Dorsey says the last reconciliation of the numbers was at the end of June 2012, prior to the start of Fiscal Year 2013, so the errors have now had a domino effect on the information that the board and staff have been using on budgets through this current fiscal year.
However, he says he is not sure yet on the effect of that $1.6 million error in Fiscal Year 2013 on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget or the current budget situation for the school system.
Dorsey says that is causing problems in putting together a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
“Right now, because of those accounting errors, we are unable to feel like we have a fund balance we can feel is solid enough to begin this budgeting process with any totality,” said Dorsey. “We are having to make sure we have the correct numbers. Our finance director is working very diligently to make sure we can get those numbers accurate so we make sure we are building a budget off of correct information.”
Dorsey says the errors could have other impacts, such as probably having to return some funds to Title I for example, which he says would further increase the draw down on the general fund balance.
He goes on to say that he is also not sure of how far reaching the impacts of these accounting errors will be when it comes to the millage rate or other items in the budget moving forward.
As a result, Dorsey says it is unlikely that the school system will have a budget in place for Fiscal Year 2015 by the time it starts on July 1.
Dorsey says that since he has just started, he is not sure how it happened.
However, he says the school system is putting in protocols to make sure that it does not occur again moving forward.