School trustees approved the audit report last week, compiled by Twin Falls-based Ware & Associates. Trustee Todd Hubbard was absent from the Oct. 25 meeting.
Auditors say the school district has strong internal financial controls, but not enough fund balance — money to use in case of an emergency to maintain operations.
With internal controls, “they kind of set the bar on that end for the size that they are,” auditor Ben Ware said Tuesday. “They do a really great job at checks and balances.”
Bob Seaman, fiscal affairs director for the Twin Falls School District, wasn’t available to comment this week because of a vacation.
Two of the topics Ware brought up during last week’s meeting: The district has an aging accounting staff that’s experienced, efficient and will be hard to replace, and the need for a larger fund balance.
The school district had about $2.7 million in fund balance at the end of the 2016-17 fiscal year — a $1.1 million decrease from the previous year. That’s only enough to cover about two weeks of operating expenses.
“In our opinion, we’d like to see that fund balance bump up,” Ware said. Typically, the recommendation is enough to cover three to four months of operating expenses.
But it’s uncommon for school districts to have that much in fund balance. “Schools overall in Idaho are just underfunded, as a general statement,” Ware said.
The Twin Falls School District’s audit report notes a budget violation, which Ware said “sounds much worse than it is” and is a technicality.
Idaho Code requires auditors to make a note when an agency exceeds its published budget on the expenditure side.
The school district’s violation was spending $225 more than budgeted for bond fees due to being charged more than estimated, Ware said.
“Really, it’s a slap on the hand because they have a fund balance,” he said, but auditors are required to report it.