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Audit findings, staffing take center stage

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

The Johnson County Board of Education met Monday evening for a work session to discuss the recently released audit report and supervision and staffing of the Maintenance/Transportation Department in advance of Thursday evening’s monthly board meeting.
An annual state audit of Johnson County revealed deficiencies in purchasing procedures and budget operation issues with the school system.
“We wanted to explain each of our deficiencies,” said Dr. Mischelle Simcox, Director of School, who informed the board of education members of two audit findings within the department, both of which “can be attributed to transition of employees and lack of proper training within the Transportation Maintenance Department,” per Simcox.
The first audit finding, presented in three separate issues, involved deficiencies in purchasing procedures. “We have addressed all deficiencies,” explained Simcox, “and have corrected them
by implementing new
procedures in several key areas.”
“The audit determined no funds were missing,” said Tina Lipford, School Finance Director. “The issue was expenditures not matching purchase orders.” Lipford explained a large amount of “janitorial supplies” were purchased under an open, or “blanket” purchase order. “The purchase was within budget,” she said. “The expenditures should have been covered by multiple P.O.’s.” Discussion ensued regarding the pros and cons of open purchase orders.
Another issue involved having to pay late charges on vendor, credit card, and utility bills, which was the result of several invoices being sent to the email account of the former transportation bookkeeper. “This issue has now been resolved,” said Simcox. “All invoices are now coming to the central office and are being timely paid.”
“Additional training will be provided to employees in supervisory and bookkeeping positions regarding purchasing procedures,” said Dr. Stephen Long, Secondary Supervisor. “Purchase orders will be set for reasonable amounts to reflect the amount of expenditure accurately.”
The final issue in the purchasing procedures finding stated: “management did not present documentation to support that competitive bids were solicited as required by state statute.” It was explained the bidding process was followed; however, state law requires competitive bids to be advertised in the newspaper on all purchases exceeding $10,000, and there was no documentation an advertisement printed before the replacement and installation of exterior doors at Johnson County High School.
The deficiencies in budget operations occurred when salaries exceeded appropriations, which attributed to an unexpected number of retirements late in the budget cycle.
“Vacation time for retirees had to be paid,” explained Simcox. “It wasn’t budgeted as there is no way to know during the budget process exactly who will be retiring and when.”
“Do you have a policy in place where employees have to let you know at the beginning of the budget process if they intend to retire?” asked Gary Matheson. Simcox indicated a questionnaire is distributed asking staff to report upcoming retirements but admits retirements are sometimes unknown well in advance and other times, unplanned.
Dr. Herbie Adams and Dr. Stephen Long provided an update regarding supervision, staffing, and ongoing training within the school’s maintenance/transportation department in the wake of the former transportation supervisor’s arrest and subsequent retirement.
To add to the upheaval in the department, the transportation bookkeeper abruptly left without notice. Both Adams and Long voiced confidence in the current staff and indicated they felt the department was in capable hands. Darwin Garver, the acting Transportation Supervisor, who is supervised by Long, was with the department prior, as were David Smiley and Dustin Crumley, who are now being supervised by Adams.