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Superintendent News & Views
March 25, 2018

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Each of Iowa's 333 school districts is audited annually. Gladbrook-Reinbeck's annual audit was released recently, and this year's audit includes several positive indicators showing that the district is headed in the right direction financially.

The independent audit by Hunt & Associates, P.C. for the fiscal year which ended on June 30, 2017, was conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. The auditors reviewed evidence of the district's financial transactions and internal controls, along with the appropriateness of the accounting policies used by the district.

The audit points out numerous pieces of information which indicate the financial health of the district. Highlights of the report include:

GENERAL FUND BALANCE. The district's General Fund balance increased from $1,522,247 in 2016 to $1,782,216 in 2017, a 17.07% increase.

SOLVENCY RATIO. The district's solvency ratio increased from 20.77% in fiscal year 2016 to 24.88% in fiscal year 2017. A school district's solvency level indicates that the district is able to meet unforeseen financing requirements and presents a sound risk for the timely repayment of short-term debt obligations.

LONG-TERM LIABILITIES. The district's outstanding long-term liabilities decreased by 2.3%.

REVENUES VS. EXPENDITURES. In fiscal year 2017, revenues exceeded expenditures by $254,919. Revenues increased by $259,969, while expenditures also increased by $230,858. Much of the increase in both revenues and expenditures can be accredited to the new Teacher Leadership Program, which generates revenues but comes with additional costs.

During the exit conference on their last day at G-R, the auditors expressed their appreciation for the professionalism, organization, and accuracy of the district's staff specifically mentioning Business Manager Deb Oleson by name. I know that the school board and I concur with the auditor's opinion. She is truly the best of the best, and I appreciate Deb for her diligence and hard work on behalf of the students, staff and patrons of the district.

You don't have to take my word for itthe most recent audit can be viewed by the public at tinyurl.com/GR17Audit. Like all audits of school districts, cities, and other public entities, the audit will eventually be posted on the State Auditor's website at auditor.iowa.gov/audit-reports. At this site, you can review audits from previous years as well.

Since I'm sharing the good news about this year's audit, I would like to add another positive indicator to the list that doesn't appear in the audit. When looking at a district's financial health, one of the most important indicators is the district's Unspent Authorized Budget (UAB) which is often indicated as both a whole number and a ratio.

The UAB doesn't appear in an audit because it isn't actual cash, it is an indication of the district's legal spending authority. Spending authority is critically important since a negative UAB is illegal and can lead to a district being dissolved by the state.

The good news is that G-R's Unspent Authorized Budget is up for the third year in a row, from $1,624,748 at the end of fiscal year 2016 to $1,956,532 at the end of fiscal year 2017. During the same period, the district's UAB ratio (calculated by taking the UAB divided by the district's maximum authorized budget) increased from 20.5% to 23%. It is recommended that districts maintain this ratio between 5% and 15%, with a maximum of 25%, so as you can see, G-R is near the top of this recommended range.

I believe that this increased spending authority is evidence that the district's efforts over the past few years to reduce spending are working. While the district did experience an enrollment increase this year, projections still show declining enrollment in the coming years; therefore, we will need to continue our efforts to monitor and control spending in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the district.

We are now more than half of the way through fiscal year 2018, and it is time to prepare the budget for fiscal year 2019. The proposed budget will be published in the Northern Sun Print and Reinbeck Courier in accordance with the legal publication deadlines leading up to the upcoming public hearing on the budget. Any district patron who may be interested is welcome to attend the public hearing, which is scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12 in the vocal music room at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Jr./Sr. High School.

You are welcome to visit my blog at rebelsupt.blogspot.com/ where this column and all of the columns I have written for the Northern Sun Print and Reinbeck Courier are posted. You are also welcome to follow me on Twitter, where my handle is @DavidRobertHill.

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