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School district audit good, with warnings

by Del Bartels

The Haakon School District 27-1 board meeting on Monday, June 15, began with the news that the elementary parking lot was over half way done being blacktopped.

Superintendent Keven Morehart had already been given authority to sign off on such a project if the situation presented itself. The HJ Paving Company out of Oklahoma had been working near Kadoka. It had extra blacktop compound and inquired for paving jobs in the Philip area. Within minutes of making arrangements with Morehart at 8:00 Monday morning, the crew began preparing the parking lot. The entire project was to be done by noon on Tuesday. The school paid $17,640 for the materials and labor.

The official meeting began with a presentation of the fiscal year 2008 audit. Mark Lyons, audit partner, and Deidre Budahl, represented Casey Peterson and Associates, LTD, of Rapid City. "Our primary purpose is to make sure information is accurate and is in an acceptable format," said Lyons. "Our report, which represents almost 300 hours of work, states that there were no disagreements with the school district's management."

"Financially, over the last five years, the district has been able to maintain or improve. It is trending downward, though it is still well above the benchmark in emergency reserves compared to other school districts. Haakon School District is by far the strongest district we work with."

"Though your district does not receive any impact aid money from the federal government, you are also not capped on the state aid formula. You are in a strong position to pay employees on time, with assets 2.56 times more than current liabilities. The district has historically been able to carry revenue amounts into next year with current resources actually funding future uses. You have maintained your net assets, raising from $3 million to 3.1 million from 2007 to 2008. Your resources available to be carried over into next year for an emergency are at 43 percent. Many other districts are below 10 percent, and they are struggling."

"In the audit, there are definite areas that must be looked at and improved, but this district is not alone. You must work at reconciling cash on a monthly basis and must publish your budget using a state statute template. We understand you have a very, very small staff and it is tough to segregate. You have the advantage of living in a small town where people at the bank recognize you when you walk in. Still, individuals on your staff must have oversights and reconciliations from someone else," concluded Lyons.

In further district business, the board approved the two-year contracts for Superintendent and Elementary Principal Keven Morehart at $83,600 per year. Secondary Principal and Athletic Director Jeff Rieckman is contracted at $56,000 per year. Business Manager Britni Ross was approved at $34,500 per year. The total amount to be paid for mileage for the listed 27 families to get their children to school for the 2008-09 school year is $37,738. The public budget hearing for 2009 has been set for 8:00 p.m. during the July 20 board of education meeting.

The board approved the elementary and secondary handbook for 2009-10. The only major change was a clearer statement of the federal complaint policy.

The board approved the dates and times for next school year's board meetings. The monthly meetings will be on the third Monday of the month. The October meeting will be at the Milesville Distance Learning Center. Meetings during November, December, January and February will be at 6:00 p.m., rather than the usual 7:00 p.m.

The next scheduled Haakon School Board 27-1 board of education meeting will be at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, July 20.